Japan dealing with high hopes
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Facing the large throng of Japanese media at a press conference after their first training at Victoria's heavily remodelled Royal Athletic Park Stadium, Japanese coach Yasushi Yoshida declared his team ready to cause problems for Sunday's opening opponent Scotland.

"We have not had too much time together to prepare as a national team," he admitted before explaining that most of the players are in the middle of their season in the J League. "That means that we should be at the very least well in form technically and physically in this tournament."

An uphill battle?
Despite the fact that the Japanese came into Canada 2007 on something of a slump - they lost four of their six preparation matches for the tournament this year - the former Urawa Reds head man said he would not tinker with the team too much: "I see no reason to change players. We have a cohesive unit that we are confident in."

He was asked about the noticeable height advantage of the Scots, whose players have the second tallest average in the tournament at 1.82m, but again he insisted that his team, who are led along the back by well-built captain Yohei Fukumoto, were prepared for the contest.

"I am not that worried about it. It only really matters in front of goal, and our centre backs are quite good in the air," he said before admitting: "It will however be important for us to move to the ball and pressure them on the flanks so that they can't serve balls into the box."

Feeling the pressure?
Though the Japanese slumped their way into the tournament, losing to France 5-1 and Cote d'Ivoire 1-0 after beating Germany at the prestigious U-21 tournament in Toulon, the team have an impressive pedigree in the U-20 World Cup. They have qualified for seven consecutive appearances and have reached the knockout stages in five of the last six.

However, Yoshida knows that nothing can be taken for granted, having commented earlier that: "I'm expecting all of our opponents to be formidable." Their success should be all the more difficult considering they will face a trio of teams who, like Japan, are continental runners-up.

Some have sense pressure on the team, and Yoshida's insistence on a closed training session on Friday caused more than few whispers. However, the boss waved off concerns, saying that he limited access to the practice because Scotland have been scouting the side's practices. "We wanted to work on our set pieces without any eyes studying us," he said, before adding: "And besides, it's good for us to concentrate on ourselves."