Japan's Keisuke Honda has predicted the Asian champions will produce a "miracle" at the FIFA World Cup™ and reach the quarter-finals, local media reported on Monday. Sporting a spiky mohawk haircut, the bleached-blond Honda touched down in Brazil with the Japan squad at the weekend and declared the Blue Samurai were ready to take on the world.
"Firstly, we can 100 percent get through our group," Honda said to Japan's Nikkan Sports daily, ahead of Japan's opening game against Ivory Coast on June 14.
"After that anything can happen at a World Cup. We're good enough now to reach the quarter-finals. Obviously we all need to stay fit but if we do the basics right 100 percent, no mistakes, we can get to the quarter-finals. From there we can make miracles happen."
Japan, who also face Greece and Colombia in Group C, underwent intense warm-weather training in southern Japan and Florida before flying to Brazil.
We're good enough now to reach the quarter-finals
"I'm not talking idealistically, I'm being realistic," said the AC Milan player. "That's where the past 10 days of training will pay off."
Japan's best FIFA World Cup™ performances to date were reaching the Round of 16 as co-hosts with South Korea in 2002 and again four years ago in South Africa. But Honda, who scored twice in Japan's 4-3 win over Zambia in Florida on Friday, remained defiant.
"Do you believe in miracles or do you make them happen," said the 27-year-old. "If we only believe in miracles and that basis disappears, it will be difficult to get through our group."
Should Japan progress, a likely meeting with either Italy, England or Uruguay from Group D awaits them in the Round of 16.