Japan hope for a thumping win over Malaysia in their penultimate London 2012 Olympic group qualifier to keep alive their hopes of reaching the games, the Blue Samurai coach said today. Japan and Syria are level on nine points and on goal difference in Asia's Group C rankings. But Syria top the four-team group, having scored one more goal, and only the group winners will qualify automatically for London.
"We hope to score as many goals as possible," Japan coach Takashi Sekizuka told reporters ahead of tomorrow night's match against the struggling Malaysians in Kuala Lumpur. Japan are leaving nothing to chance, sending their players to neighbouring Singapore for three days to adjust to the tropical climate in the game's buildup.
"I hope the players will have the right frame of mind when playing tomorrow," Sekizuka said. "(Malaysia) are playing better and improving in every match, but we need to concentrate on our style. We need to show our ability," he added.
Japan have featured at the past four Olympics but the prospect of missing out on London has arisen after they lost to Syria earlier this month. The runners-up in Asia's three pools enter a round-robin playoff, with the winners heading to a one-off game on 23 April in the English city Coventry to face Senegal for the continent's last Olympic spot.
Malaysia are out of the running for qualification, having lost all four of their games so far. But coach Ong Kim Swee insisted his team would play for a win against Japan. "They need a better goal difference with Syria," he noted, while adding: "If they are too offensive, I'm afraid they may get caught."
Syria meanwhile face third-placed Bahrain away in Manama on tomorrow. The qualifiers conclude on 14 March with Japan at home to Bahrain and Syria, whose country is in the throes of anti-government unrest, playing Malaysia on neutral turf in Jordan.