Japan believe they can frustrate the Netherlands in their crunch FIFA World Cup™ match on Saturday just as they did for large parts in an away friendly last September. The east Asians dominated early against the Dutch before eventually crumbling to a 3-0 defeat, conceding three goals in the last 20 minutes in Enschede.
"We did particularly well in the first half. I think what will matter is how we can keep ourselves focused on our defence in the second half," midfielder Junichi Inamoto said Wednesday at Japan's training base of George.
"We want to attack the ball hard and we know it will be a tough match," said the 30-year-old veteran of three World Cups, who returned to Japan last January after nine years at European clubs including Arsenal and Fulham. "There will be a chance for us to win," added the Kawasaki Frontale player who watched the September friendly from the bench.
Saturday's match in Durban in Group E is key after the Netherlands struggled past Denmark 2-0 and Japan stunned African powerhouse Cameroon 1-0 on Monday. Gamba Osaka midfielder Yasuhito Endo, who played the full 90 minutes in Enschede, warned that the Dutch squad "excel in indiviual skills."
"It won't be an easy match. I think our patience will be tested for a certain length of time," said the 2009 Asian Footballer of the Year.
CSKA Moscow rookie Keisuke Honda, who moved from Dutch side VVV Venlo in January, scored the winner against Cameroon as he played as a frontman although his usual role is as an attacking midfielder. Japan coach Takeshi Okada is widely expected to use the same first team against the Dutch, with former Mallorca striker Yoshito Okubo and Grenoble midfielder Daisuke Matsui in support.