Korea Republic's stunning 2-0 win over Greece has fired up Japan ahead of their own 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ opener against Cameroon tomorrow.
"South Korea pressed hard in battling for the ball. I told my players they can do the same," said Japan coach Takeshi Okada. "It is our turn now. We have an ample chance, too."
Japan head into their opening match on the back of four straight warm-up friendly defeats - to Serbia, South Korea, England and Côte d'Ivoire - and then battling to an uninspiring 0-0 draw with Zimbabwe in a training match in George on Thursday.
South Korea pressed hard in battling for the ball. I told my players they can do the same.
FC Tokyo defender Yuto Nagatomo was impressed with what he saw from Korea Republic on Saturday and is hoping his side can emulate the success of their Asian rivals when they take to the field in Bloemfontein. "It has inspired us a lot," he said. "We don't want to be outdone by South Korea. We want to work hard and go one up on South Korea."
Blue Samurai have been seeking revenge after they were whipped by neighbours Korea Republic twice this year - losing 3-1 at the East Asian championships in February and 2-0 last month, both at home.
Japan, who have scored only one goal in the last five games through Brazilian-born centre back Marcus Tulio Tanaka, focused on set pieces in Saturday's training. "We spent a considerable amount of time to check our set plays," said Okada. "Set plays appeared to have held the key to both attack and defence so far in the tournament."
Okada, who has been criticised for changing his squad's formation, is expected to start tomorrow's match with fast-rising CSKA Moscow midfielder Keisuke Honda as a lone frontman. "The match may be decided by how well we can handle set pieces," Honda said.