Japan coach Takeshi Okada remained upbeat despite suffering a fourth consecutive pre-FIFA World Cup South Africa™ defeat by Côte d'Ivoire yesterday. Defender Marcus Tulio Tanaka scored his second own goal in as many games after 13 minutes against Sven Göran Eriksson's side, before Kolo Toure's close-range finish with nine minutes remaining sealed the win to further dent Japan's confidence ahead of the 14 June 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ opener against Cameroon.
Japan have also lost to Serbia, Korea Republic and England in the build-up to the tournament. "We could have chosen to play weak opponents to win these last four games, but we knew in order to test ourselves we had to choose top teams and I told the players that in advance," Okada told Kyodo News.
Four years ago in Germany, Japan failed to advance past the group stage after picking up just one point from three games, while on their FIFA World Cup™ debut in 1998, under Okada, the Blue Samurai failed to win a game before reaching the last 16 four years later on home soil.
"As far as confidence is concerned, it may be that naturally the players feel a little frail but we have come this far and because of the situation we are in the players perhaps may show that extra bit of effort," added Okada.