Defender Marcus Tulio Tanaka has declared himself fit for Japan ahead of their last 16 clash with Paraguay in the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ in Pretoria on Tuesday. The 29-year-old took a knock to his back in the 3-1 win over Denmark on and trained separately from the rest of the team yesterday.
Tulio played down concerns over his fitness, however, and insisted he is ready to take his place in the side as the Blue Samurai bid for a historic place in quarter-finals. "I'm okay,'' the Brazilian-born defender said. ''I just picked up a knock late in the game against Denmark and will be all right. You expect fatigue and stuff to build up during a tournament but I am really looking forward to playing against Paraguay.''
Japan have not fared well against South American opposition in previous FIFA World Cups, having lost 1-0 to Argentina in France 1998 before suffering a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Brazil in Germany four years ago.
The East Asians scored two superb free-kicks against Denmark on Thursday to all but put the game beyond their opponents and Tulio believes set-pieces could once again prove their strength against Paraguay.
"They (Paraguay) will be trying everything on to rile us. Every goal is so much more precious now in this knockout stage and it is important we try to get our noses in front first," he added. "One thing we will have to try and do is vary our set-pieces to surprise them.''