Japan captain Makoto Hasebe has revealed coach Takeshi Okada has urged his players to put everything on the line in Thursday's FIFA World Cup™ showdown with Denmark with a place in the last 16 at stake.
The winners in Rustenburg are guaranteed to join Holland in the last 16 from Group E, while a draw would send Japan through to a second appearance in the knockout stage due to a superior goal difference. Okada, who took charge of Japan's pointless 1998 FIFA World Cup™ debut, has already described the opportunity to reach the knockout for a first time on foreign soil following their run to the last 16 in 2002 as a "chance of a lifetime".
"The coach has told us that in life you only get a few opportunities to reach the knockout stages of the World Cup and told us to give it our all," said 26-year-old Wolfsburg midfielder Hasebe.
Despite a disciplined display on Saturday Japan lost 1-0 to Holland as the Dutch secured a place in the last 16 while Denmark beat Cameroon 2-1 to eliminate the Africans and set up Thursday's decider with both sides sitting on three points from two games.
Hasebe added: "We are all really disappointed about losing to the Netherlands, but the Denmark result is not a bad one for us and we will head into the game in a positive frame of mind."