With the excitement of the World Cup group stage draw now done, we turn to the inevitable analysis of the group composition, and it looks like the Samurai Blue have been drawn into a relatively easier group than most. Pundits are saying that japan should focus and grab this opportunity of progressing further into the knockout stages at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, as they have been handed an easier draw compared the world’s footballing powerhouses.
Group C, where Japan has been drawn, is one of only two groups that will not feature a previous World Cup winner. But it will be far from being “very easy,” as Japan will be facing the likes of the in-form Colombia, currently ranked fourth in the world and spearheaded by one of the most lethal strikers in the world today, Monaco’s Radamel Falcao. Also in the group are Ivory Coast, who will be headlined by aging stars Didier Drogba and the brothers Kolo Toure and Yaya Toure. Completing the group will be Greece, who have a wide reputation of being characteristically difficult to beat because of their defensive style. Japan are ranked well below their three group rivals, but they reached the last 16 at the 2010 World Cup and boast of attacking midfielders Keisuke Honda – who will soon be playing for AC Milan – and Shinji Kagawa of Manchester United.
Japan’s head coach, Alberto Zaccheroni, was quietly optimistic of their chances, provided that they can get off to a fast start. “If we can play to the best of our ability then we can be a threat. I am confident,” the Italian said. “Obviously getting off to a good start is important.” Japan are Asian champions and have twice made it to the last 16 in four World Cup appearance. “It will be hot and humid at the stadium and that is something that the African players are used to. We really need to be fully prepared,” the Italian added.
Other groups compare very interesting and mouth-watering clashes, with 2010 finalists Spain and Netherlands in one group. Traditional powerhouses England and Italy are also grouped together in another, while USA will have to contend with Germany, Portugal, and Ghana in Group G – which is widely considered to be the “group of death”. Hosts Brazil will find their group also relatively easy and will be optimistic of their chances to win a World Cup on their home soil.