With some critics still calling for his head after a string of bad results for the Samurai Blue, Japan national football team coach Alberto Zaccheroni says the results of their next two friendly games against the Netherlands and Belgium will not matter. He named his 23-man squad for the games scheduled in the next few weeks and it includes European stars Keisuke Honda and Shinji Kagawa.
“At this point in time, how we play is more important than what result we have,” the Italian said in response to those who have been disappointed with Japan’s last few matches, which includes losses to Serbia (2-0) and Belarus (1-0) the previous month. Those two countries failed to make it for the finals of the World Cup in 2014, whereas Japan has qualified for the fifth straight time. For this round of European friendlies, they will be up against two powerhouses. On November 16 they play against Netherlands, the previous World Cup’s runner-up and eight in the FIFA world rankings and Belgium, the fifth best ranked team in the world on November 19.
It will be even tougher to get a result against these two teams and Zaccheroni is realistic enough not to expect to win. He admits that the past few matches, he wasn’t satisfied with their offense and the boys were not intense and accurate enough to be able to have a chance to beat their opponents. The team has won four of their last 11 games after a dismal performance at the Confederations Cup in Brazil where they lost all three group games. Despite these less than stellar results, the Japan Football Association has stood by Zaccheroni, who took over the team after the 2010 World Cup where they reached the last 16.
[ via Global Post ]