Japan has no fear of Brazil, says Nakata
Japan's experienced midfielder Hidetoshi Nakata says his side will not be scared of Brazil at next year's FIFA World Cup with global football more evenly balanced now than ever before.
Japan have been drawn in Group F alongside the defending champions with Croatia and Australia making up the numbers. "After eight years in the national team, one thing I really believe now is that if ever there was a time when battles were decided by the names of the contenders, that time is over," the Bolton Wanderers star said on his website.
"This was demonstrated in the results of the last World Cup in 2002 and in this year's qualifiers. That is how evenly balanced the level of competition is these days. I think the game of football has reached a stage where, depending on your approach, it is definitely possible for a 'weaker' team to win."
Japan open their campaign against Australia on 12 June before meeting Croatia four days later and finishing their group phase against Brazil on 22 June. The two-time Asian player of the year believes Japan can reach the last 16.
"I certainly don't expect any of our matches to be easy, but the same would be true of any opponent in this competition," he said on nakata.net. "More than anything, what I think is important is to what extent you can play your own style of football, the kind of football you really want to play.
"The country that can enjoy their games by playing football that is true to themselves will be the country that keeps winning all the way to the top of this tournament."