Their chances of progressing to the next phase already over, Japan and Mexico are preparing to round off their FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 campaigns with one main aim in mind: avoiding finishing bottom of Group A. FIFA.com previews the action ahead.
Japan-Mexico, Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte, Saturday 22 June, 16.00 (local time)
Though they eventually went down 4-3 to Italy in a memorable encounter last time out, Japan’s performance even in defeat was nothing short of sensational. The challenge for the Samurai Blue is to produce a similar display against Mexico, which would confirm their status as a growing global force ahead of their return to Brazil for next year’s FIFA World Cup™.
The mood appears to be quite different in a Mexican camp where, despite El Tri’s recent travails in Brazil 2014 qualifying, hopes had been high of at least reaching the last four here at Brazil 2013. Jose Manuel de la Torre’s charges can take heart from performing better against the hosts than in their opener with Italy, but the coach must still find a way to rebuild squad morale and improve results. Could a win against the Asian champions be the tonic they need to get back on track?
3 – The number of consecutive victories Mexico have racked up against Japan, having lost 3-2 in the first meeting between the pair back in 1996. Following that defeat, El Tri won 2-1 in 1998, 1-0 in 2000 and 2-1 in 2005, with the latter result also coming at the FIFA Confederations Cup. Nevertheless, it is worth mentioning that since that 2005 loss, Japan have won their last five games against CONCACAF nations.
“Whatever the result against Japan, it won’t lose me the support of my players or my bosses [at the Mexican FA]. For the sake of our pride, we really want to win this game. We don’t want to bow out without any points, particularly since our aims [for this competition] had been so different,” Mexico coach Jose Manuel de la Torre.
"The important thing for us, aside from the results, was to progress as a team. We played against stronger opponents than those we come across normally. From here, the key is to store up a wealth of experience so that we can use everything we have learned a year from now, at the World Cup," Mike Havenaar, Japan forward.