Japan have announced that they will play the Netherlands and Scotland as part of a string of friendlies arranged in the build-up to next year's FIFA World Cup™.
The Japanese secured their place in South Africa by finishing second in their qualifying group and coach Takeshi Okada immediately set about making plans for his side's preparations. Japan will tackle the Dutch in Enschede on 5 September before taking on Ghana in Utrecht four days later. They will then host Scotland on 10 October in Yokohama and Togo on 14 October in Oita.
"So far the match arrangements have gone as well as I had hoped," said Okada. "I am hoping to raise our game standard to one level higher through those matches from September to November."
Okada coached Japan at the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France during his first stint at the helm of the national team. They also qualified for the last two FIFA World Cups with their best performance so far being a last-16 appearance in 2002, when they co-hosted the tournament with Korea Republic.
And Okada is keen for his side to play as many top-class opponents as possible over the course of the next year to give themselves the best chance of going even further in 2010.
"I've already told our players which parts of the game they should work on improving in the coming months," he added. "They have to make sure they improve accuracy in kicking and speed of kicks, beating their opponents by running and also at one-on-one situations," Okada said.
"After attending games at the recent Confederations Cup, I think that we are on the right track and we should continue to pursue what we are aiming for and we will be able to show our style of football (at the FIFA World Cup). So, it's important for our players to actually feel what a world-class team is like by playing them (in those warm-ups)."