Japan coach Takeshi Okada has vowed to play for a win in Thursday's decisive FIFA World Cup™ Group E clash with Denmark, despite knowing a draw will be enough to put his side into the last 16.
"For us and for football in Japan as a whole, it is a massive match," Okada told reporters on the eve of the crunch encounter. "The players have got to give everything they have and if they do we can qualify. I've told the players not to think about getting a draw. We have to score and we will start the match trying to win."
Okada's positive tone was echoed by Wolfsburg midfielder Makoto Hasebe. "A really important match is waiting for us," he said. "We stake our whole life on this match, I believe. We will not be playing for a draw, we will be going for a win."
Much has been made of Denmark's height advantage, although Japan are not a particulary short side and Okada underlined that an aerial threat would only be a factor if his side allowed their opponents to put dangerous balls into the box.
"Of course, having taller players can be an advantage," he said. "But we have already played against teams with a height advantage, it doesn't automatically mean you win. We will try to do everything we can to stop their crosses and, for the rest, God will decide if we can get the goal we need. We cannot suddenly make our players taller. We just have to do what we can with what we've got."
We will not be playing for a draw, we will be going for a win.
On that theme, Okada made it clear he was looking for a big performance from CSKA Moscow's Seisuke Honda, who scored Japan's goal in a 1-0 defeat of Cameroon that was the Samurai Blue's first FIFA World Cup win on foreign soil.
Honda also has experience of the Dutch league and Okada said: "He's scored our only goal and I expect him to help us score again. He has the physical strength to compete with European players, and I would like him to take advantage of that."
If Japan do reach the last 16, they will emulate the 2002 squad that made the first knockout round on home soil. If they fall short, the campaign in South Africa is still likely to be regarded as a success in light of the breakthrough win over Cameroon and a solid display in the 1-0 defeat by the Netherlands, who are already through to the last 16.
"I am not thinking about losing but if we do and the result is worthy of criticism, we will have to accept that," Okada added.