Japan coach Takeshi Okada has predicted a big, bruising battle against Denmark on Thursday, demanding something special from his players to stay alive in the FIFA World Cup™.
Japan need only a draw to reach the last 16 as they have a better goal difference than Denmark, although the two sides are level at three points in Group E. The Netherlands are already assured of advancing having won both matches in the group.
"I think it will be a very big match for both sides. To win such a big match, I think in a sense we need something beyond the team's tactics," Okada said Tuesday at Japan's training base of George. "I really want the players to fight with a solid mentality," he said. "It would be ideal if we can overwhelm the opposition by 10 goals. But it won't be that easy. I think it's going to be a very close, fierce match."
Japan have taken heart from upsetting African powerhouses Cameroon 1-0 and then going down fighting 1-0 to the favoured Dutch side. Denmark lost 2-0 to the Dutch but swept aside Cameroon 2-1 to knock the Africans out of contention.
Okada warned against the Danes' huge height advantage over the Samurai Blue - nearly eight centimetres between the starters in their last games. "How to deal with their height in set plays and their long balls will be our main issues," said Okada. "We have to be sure about how to maintain a solid defence against them."
Okada reaffirmed that young Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner will be a major threat. "I think Bendtner will be the key man in their attack. They will fight under his lead."