Japan national team coach Alberto Zaccheroni is confident his squad can give Colombia, Ivory Coast and Greece a run for their money in their World Cup grouping. The Italian coach is optimistic of his team’s World Cup chances as he announced the 23-man squad that will go against New Zealand in a friendly next week.
While Japan’s opponent nations in Group C all rank higher than them, the Samurai Blue tactician said, “I am confident we can go head-to-head with any of them if we perform to the best of our abilities.” While acknowledging that his group in the World Cup can be challenging, he believes that it is well-balanced with Colombia seeming to be ahead of the other teams “as they have wealth of talented players, many of them playing abroad,” said Zaccheroni. However, he sees Ivory Coast as “the eye of the storm” as they have the advantage of being used to playing in hot weather in West Africa, which is pretty much the same as the weather in Brazil. On Greece, Zaccheroni said that the team is “a difficult side to play” as the former European champions know how to “play a kind of football which cancels out the strengths of opponents.” He described Greece as “highly accurate on the counterattack and they are united in defense.”
Zaccheroni has named Keisuke Honda of AC Milan, Shiji Kagawa of Manchester United, Shinji Okazaki of Mainz and Yuto Nagatomo of Inter Milan among those included in the list of 23 players against New Zealand. Atsuto Uchida, Schalke defender and Makoto Hasebe, Nuremberg midfielder were not included because of injuries. Zaccheroni is hoping to check strategies and plays his team has been practicing over the years in the friendly. “They are physically strong and it will be an important game in our preparations,” described Zaccheroni of the team who played very well in South Africa in 2010, but failed to qualify for Brazil. The Japan-New Zealand friendly on March 5 at the Tokyo National Stadium will be the last match in the venue before it is demolished and rebuilt for the 2020 Olympics.
[via The Republic]