RETURN TO FORM

Japan recently returned to form after managing a 3-0 victory over Ghana in a friendly match. The team was defeated 4-2 by Uruguay only recently, which increased the pressure on manager Alberto Zaccheroni ahead of the World Cup.

He was an extremely pleased man after the Ghana match, as his team performed up to his expectations in all areas of the pitch. Japan came into the encounter on the back of a 3-0 win over Guatemala only a few days ago, but this was the real test for the Japanese players. A number of them have been finding it difficult to get regular first-team football with their clubs.

One of the most important among them has been Shinji Kagawa, who has so far not featured as a starter in any of the three Premier league matches for Manchester United. He was signed for more than $ 20 million only recently. When asked about the lack of action in the Premier league, he said that it is a question that should be asked David Moyes – the manager of Manchester United. Despite these shortcomings, Japan managed to overcome a very strong Ghana team. Kagawa was on the scoresheet for Japan along with Honda and Endo.

“I told my players that I was satisfied with their performance. They played aggressively while keeping the midfield tight and pressured their opponents well. I was able to see that in the Guatemala game, but today it was clearer. We played much better today, especially against our tough opponents. We dominated in midfield and created good finishing opportunities and made more attempts than our opponents. On top of that, our players responded well after giving away a goal,” said the Japan manager after the match. Japan’s next match will be once again in a friendly against Serbia.

JAPAN NET WIN

Japan recently managed to win the East Asian Cup for the first time, but the manager Alberto Zaccheroni was more pleased with the number of new faces that shone for the national team. Japan came into this tournament with a number of players in their squad.

They will be one of the favourites to do well at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Japan is expected to be one of the strongest teams from Asia to participate in this tournament. As a result, Zaccheroni has been stressing the importance of carrying a strong squad tournament.

Japan started the East Asian Cup with an entertaining 3-3 draw against China. However, they quickly returned to their best in the 3-2 win over Australia. Following the 2-1 win over South Korea, they managed to lift the tournament.

Even though they conceded a lot goals during the tournament, Zaccheroni was pleased with the progress made by the new faces. He has said that the players exceeded his expectations throughout the tournament. Hotaru Yamaguchi was rewarded for an excellent tournament with the Golden Boot award, while the likes of Manabu Saito and Yuya Osako have increased their chances of making it into the World Cup squad with an impressive performance.

“The players exceeded my expectations, but I already knew they had quality. The fact that the players were able to grasp the team concept so quickly is proof of their intelligence. I could feel their desire to make the most of their chance. I feel like I have a lot of options, and although every player is different, the fact that my options have now increased is a big thing. Some players are ready to be called up now and some will play for the national team in the future,” said Zaccheroni after the win.

TOUGHER MATCHES

Japan national team manager Alberto Zaccheroni has been requesting the football Association to schedule matches against tougher opposition, as it would help them prepare well for the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2014.

The Japanese football Association has granted the wish to Zaccheroni after Japan will be taking on Uruguay in a friendly match. Uruguay will provide a stern opposition for Japan, and the friendly match will be taking place in the second week of August. The South American team reached the semifinals of the FIFA World Cup 2010, while they have also recently won the Copa America as well.

Yet, the South Americans have not been at their best in recent months. It has been partly down to the ageing squad, which includes the likes of Diego Forlan. The emergence of players like Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez is yet to take effect in the results, but Uruguay manager Oscar Tabarez recently expressed his confidence that the team will be able to return to winning ways. The nation is currently fighting against the odds to qualify for the FIFA World Cup 2014, while Japan are extremely close to sealing their place in this major tournament.

Zaccheroni has said that this match will help his team know their status against the big boys.

“Uruguay are among the top teams in the world, with individual quality and sophisticated tactics. I pleaded with the JFA to fix this match because we need it to further develop the team by playing the strongest sides,” said Zaccheroni after the announcement of the friendly match came. Japan could have been the first team to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, but they missed the opportunity after the 2-1 defeat against Jordan recently. They would have qualified for this major tournament at the beaten Jordan, but still they are extremely close.

COMMITMENT

Japan manager Alberto Zaccheroni has requested total commitment and focus from his players ahead of the World Cup qualifying match with Jordan. The match will take place on Tuesday, and there has already been talk of the players keeping one eye on the result between Australia and Oman.

Japan are currently top of the table, and they could be on the brink of qualification to the FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil if they managed a victory against Jordan coupled with other results going their way. This primarily includes a draw between Australia and Oman.

Ahead of the match, though, Zaccheroni has insisted that his players should focus only on their match and they should not be worried about the other results. Zaccheroni has been the national team manager since 2010, and he has said that it is obviously going to be extremely difficult not to look at the other results. Japan’s next match will be against Amman, and they could be looking at taking just a point from the match if results are favourable in the upcoming World Cup qualifying matches. Team captain Makoto Hasebe has said that this is going to be an extremely tough match for Japan given that Jordan are a competitive team.

The previous match between the two nations finished in a 6-0 win for Japan in June. “Obviously it is impossible for me to keep the players away from looking at the result on the Internet but we can’t let it affect us. We need to be focused and just concentrate on the game in front of us. This is a massive match for us and of course there is pressure on myself and the players. We are carrying the hopes of everyone back home but I can’t let the pressure get to the players,” Zaccheroni.

GREAT FORM

Aside from the 4-0 defeat at the hands of Brazil, Japan have been on a really good run of form in recent months. They continued their good work in the friendly match against Latvia, which pleased the manager Alberto Zaccheroni.

The manager was also extremely delighted with the performance of the Stuttgart striker Shinji Okazaki, who managed to score two goals in the match. His opening goal in the 41st minute helped Japan go into the half-time break with a lead. Zaccheroni has said that it was much better performance from his players in the second half, and it reflected in the two goals scored during this period.

Honda doubled the advantage for Japan in the 60th minute, while Okazaki completed his brace a minute later to give the score a comprehensive look. The result gives Japan plenty of confidence going into the friendly match against Canada next month. Zaccheroni has praised the striker Okazaki by saying that he showed his true quality, while he praised the performance of his players who have not played together for the last two months. Zaccheroni is confident that such a repeat performance in the upcoming World Cup qualifying matches will ensure that the team qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

“We played much better in the second half. We hadn’t played for almost two months so it took us some time to adjust but we were much better after the break and if we continue to play like that we’ll be in good shape,” said the 59-year-old Italian after the match. He will be hoping that the players maintain the same performance ahead of the 2013 Confederations cup that will take place in Brazil. Japan have been handed a tough draw for this competition, but they will be hoping that such a good form carries them through.

JAPAN NEED MOMENTUM

Japan will be looking to gather momentum in the New Year according to the manager Alberto Zaccheroni. He has said that the year 2013 will be extremely decisive for the team in the hopes of qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

A lot has also been expected of Japan in recent times, while many suggesting that they could become the next major force in the world. However, the team first needs to qualify for the World Cup according to the manager. He has said that due to the fact that there is not a lot of time in 2014, the team should make use of this year to reach its peak.

Zaccheroni has admitted to the fact that the confederations cup will be extremely tough. He has said that the team needs to make use of this tournament as a stepping stone to the 2014 World Cup. The last two years has been extremely good for the national team under the regime of Zaccheroni. He has managed to get the team to the Asian cup victory in 2011, while the form of the team has also been extremely good in 2012. Japan are extremely close to qualifying for the World Cup due to a near-perfect record.

“The Confederations Cup will be tough, and that’s exactly the way I want it. After that, I’ve asked the JFA for another European tour when I hope we can keep playing the best teams. The Confederations Cup will be incredibly competitive, with only quality teams in the tournament. We must use the competition as a building block for 2014. At the Confederations Cup, I can’t emphasize how important it will be to find out what we need to work on over the year leading up to the World Cup,” said the Japanese national team manager.

JAPAN HAPPY WITH DRAW

The Japanese national team manager Alberto Zaccheroni has said that he is extremely delighted to be paired along with Italy in the group stages of the Confederations cup that will take place in the summer.

The 2013 Confederations cup will take place in Brazil and the draw for the group stages has recently been concluded. Japan will be part of a group that contains Mexico, Brazil, and Italy. It is undoubtedly the toughest group at this competition since it includes two former winners of the World Cup. Alberto Zaccheroni, who is an Italian, has previously expressed his interest to be coming up against his country in this tournament.

He has now been granted his wish and Zaccheroni has said that it will be a difficult moment for him because it will be the first time he will be facing Italy as an opposition manager. Even though he has always wanted to play against them, he is not sure how the emotions will be during the encounter. However, he has stressed the fact that the result is the most important thing from the match, and he hopes that Japan get the right result. The 59-year-old has said that the other three teams in the group are experienced, but Japan have been improving a lot recently due to the international exposure to the players.

“It will be my first time facing Italy – I can’t picture what it will be like. I wanted to play them at least once while I was Japan coach. I’m sure it won’t be a dull game. The important thing is get a result. The three other sides are above us in the world rankings but we’re improving. Many of our players have gained valuable experience from playing overseas and I’m very curious to see how we do in this group,” said Zaccheroni.

JAPAN MISS KAGAWA

The Japanese national team manager Alberto Zaccheroni has said that he has no issues with the absence of the Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa for the upcoming qualifying match against Oman.

Japan are currently top of the standings in the group B, as they have a five point advantage over the likes of Australia and Oman. They will be looking to improve on that advantage when they take on the latter next week. One of the major injury concerns for the manager is the Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa. The 23-year-old former Borussia Dortmund star has been one of the best players for Japan in the last few years.

He will undoubtedly be a big miss according to the manager, but has said that there are a number of quality players within the team according to the manager. The 23-year-old Manchester United midfielder has been injured for the last few weeks. He is not expected to be back until a couple of weeks. So far, the player has made 37 appearances at the international level scoring 12 goals. His most recent appearance for the Japanese national team was in the 1-0 win over France. In his absence, the manager called up more than 13 players based in Europe.

“But don’t forget that the players that have come in to deputise for them have done a great job. Kagawa is not here this time, but I’m sure that whoever fills in for him will do well. Oman are one of the more organised and balanced teams in the group. But they will come at us this time. We have to be very focused,” said the Japanese national team manager Alberto Zaccheroni ahead of this match. After this encounter, Japan will be facing Jordan in the next World Cup qualifying match.

KAGAWA PULLS OUT

The Japanese midfielder Shinji Kagawa has said that he has pulled out of the World Cup qualification matches against Iraq due to a back injury, but it is not a serious injury that will keep him on the sidelines for much longer.

The Manchester United midfielder has become one of the important players within the team. He has had a good partnership with the new striker Robin van Persie. Hence, there have been fears that Manchester United will miss him for the next couple of matches after he pulled out just a few hours prior to the match against Iraq.

Japan managed to win the match 1-0, and the 23-year-old Shinji Kagawa has played down fears that he will miss the chunk of the Manchester United season due to the back injury. Unofficial statement from the Japanese football Association said that the player felt a little bit of trouble after his first practice session and decided not to take any risks with the injury. Manchester United will be taking on Wigan during the weekend, following which they will be playing against Galatasaray in the first group stage Champions League match at Old Trafford. Manchester United were knocked out of the competition in the group stages last season and will be looking to do better this time around.

“It [the injury] happened in yesterday’s practice. I was holding the ball and went to make a move and in that instant it started to hurt. I won’t take long to recover,” said the midfielder in an interview given to Nikkan Sports. “He felt uncomfortable in his lower back in practice yesterday, and we decided to wait a night and see how it looked, but he’s not at 100 per cent so we’re leaving him off. He didn’t go to the hospital,” said the Japanese FA statement.

JAPAN TAKE ON VENEZUELA

Japan were taking on Venezuela in a friendly match. However, they could only muster a draw in this match partly because of the high temperatures. Japan were coming into the match against Venezuela as the clear favourites to win due to their recent form.

However, they were not able to use the home advantage to great effect after they lost the initiative in the match and could only draw 1-1. The Japan national team manager Alberto Zaccheroni made a number of crucial changes to the team with the view of identifying potential stars prior to the start of the next round of qualification matches.

Venezuela were coming into the match without a great reputation for scoring a lot of high-profile scalps.

However, they have been extremely good in recent years and it was demonstrated in the 1-1 draw. The Japan national team manager Alberto Zaccheroni said that it was a good result considering the heat and also the various changes he has made to the team. Yasuhito Endo opened the scoring for the Japanese the first half, but they could not hold on to the lead for much longer after they conceded a crucial goal. The match remained without any goals from then on.
“They played us well, wouldn’t let us play our game. We’ve got to train harder so we can win the next time out,”

Keisuke Honda said after the match. Nicolas Fedor scored the equaliser for Venezuela after he managed to score from close range. Even though Japan had more opportunities to score a lot of goals in the match, they were not clinical and finishing and paid the price with this draw. The match, though, was extremely popular in Japan and attracted a crowd of more than 40,000. Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa hit the bar in the second half.