Brazilian legend Zico, who coached Japan at the FIFA World Cup Germany 2006™, has been giving Uzbekistan inside information on his former charges ahead of a South Africa 2010 qualifier between the two countries.
"We have gained much information on Japan from Zico," Uzbek coach Mirjalol Kasymov said Tuesday on the eve of the Asian Group A match at the Saitama Stadium.
"Japan put pressure up front but we can go on counterattacks if we break them up," said Kasymov, who took over from Rauf Inliyev after the Central Asian side lost their first two qualifiers in the final Asian qualifying round.
Zico, who led Japan to the Asian Cup title in 2004, signed up with the Uzbekistan club Kuruvchi last month after winning the Turkish title with Fenerbahce last year. He also doubles as technical advisor to Kasymov, but did not come here for the match against his former side.
"We have lost two matches but the players are in good form," Kasymov said. "It is difficult to change the team in a short period of time. But we still have a chance. Anything can happen in football."
Uzbekistan are bottom of Group A and lost to South Korea 3-0 in a friendly on the road last Saturday.
Qatar currently top the table with four points from two games with Japan and Australia trailing with three points from one game each. Bahrain stood fourth with a point from two games.
Meanwhile, Japan coach Takeshi Okada said the three points were all important. "I wish that the team will always act as one to play vigorously on the pitch tomorrow and get three points. That's all," he said.
Japan struggled to beat Bahrain 3-2 away in their opener, giving up two goals in the final five minutes.
Celtic midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura agreed: "It's the three points that count after all. We must not be mistaken about that. We will think about winning first and foremost, not about how we play."
Japan drew 1-1 with the United Arab Emirates at home last week in a friendly - that despite having 15 shots on goal.