Hasebe plots downfall of former coach Osieck

Japan captain Makoto Hasebe has declared his respect for Australia coach Holger Osieck but vowed to leave his former boss heartbroken in Saturday's AFC Asian Cup final.

Hasebe spent just a year working under Osieck at previous club Urawa Reds, but it proved a remarkably fruitful one as the German coach led the Japanese side to glory in the 2007 AFC Champions League. Urawa Reds' 3-1 aggregate success against Iranian outfit Sepahan gave the Saitama-based team their first success in a continental competition and secured a place for Osieck's side in the club's folklore.

Hasebe left Urawa Reds just two months later, joining German team Wolfsburg, and revealed at the time that he had sought advice from Osieck about moving to the Bundesliga. Saturday's game finds them on opposite sides, however, and Hasebe insists he will have no thoughts for his old boss when he crosses the white line at Doha's Al Khalifa Stadium.

"I had a great relationship with Osieck when I was playing with Urawa Reds. I really respect him as well," said Hasebe. "But tomorrow we are opponents and I want to show that Japanese football has changed since he was in charge of Urawa Reds."

I had a great relationship with Osieck when I was playing with Urawa Reds... But tomorrow we are opponents and I want to show that Japanese football has changed.
Makoto Hasebe

Hasebe, the 2004 J-League player of the year, is bidding to become the fourth Japanese captain to lift the Asian Cup trophy, after the Blue Samurai's previous successes in 1992, 2000 and 2004. Coach Alberto Zaccheroni's young side have slightly exceeded expectations by reaching the final, but Hasebe says they now have a glorious opportunity to make a statement that will resound around the world.

"To reach the final and play against a side like Australia - I'm very happy about that," said the 27-year-old central midfielder. "In this final we would like to play with our style and really showcase Japanese football."

Osieck, who was the assistant to Franz Beckenbauer when West Germany won the 1990 FIFA World Cup, has a reputation as a shrewd tactician and a creator of well-organised, defensively disciplined sides. Australia have scored 13 goals in the competition to date for the loss of just one, and crushed Uzbekistan 6-0 with imperious ease in the last four.

His time spent coaching in Japan means he has also had an insight into the psyche of Japanese footballers, but Zaccheroni says the Japan team have done their homework on Australia too. "Osieck has been in charge of J-League teams and probably knows the Japan team well, but we have researched the Australia team and we know the Australia team now," said the Italian.

Qatar are using the Asian Cup as an early staging post on the road to hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup, having defeated Japan, amongst others, in the race to organise the quadrennial football showpiece. Despite Japanese disappointment at having missed out in the bidding process, Hasebe admits that he has been impressed by the Gulf state.

"The pitches are fantastic and the environment is fantastic too," he said. "2022 is 11 years from now, but I'd still like to come back as a player!"