Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni insisted on Monday that his players need to rediscover their potency as a team, refusing to focus on high-profile individuals as they prepare for a must-win game against Colombia.
The Asian champions have just one point from their two matches so far and go into their final Group C game against Colombia on Tuesday knowing they are not in control of their own destiny.
Their misfiring attackers have mustered only a single goal in Brazil - scored early in their opener against Côte d'Ivoire by Keisuke Honda - and Shinji Kagawa was dropped to the bench for the second game.
Asked whether Manchester United playmaker Kagawa and AC Milan's Honda were critical to the team's fortunes, Zaccheroni stressed the importance of the unit as a whole.
"I always consider the team to be very important," said the veteran Italian at a pre-match press conference in Cuiaba. If the team doesn't have the right balance then even the great individual players suffer from that and have difficulty," he added.
Zaccheroni, who led Japan to their fourth AFC Asian Cup title in 2011 and to the top of their Asian qualifying group for the FIFA World Cup™, said he was "very confident" ahead of Tuesday's decisive match. "Even today I saw them (the players) training... and they were very motivated and they looked very concentrated."
The coach said his team had so far been unable to reproduce the form they had showed over the past four years but on their day could be a match for anyone in the world. "Japan probably is not the best team in the world. Definitely it's not the best team in the world," he said.
"But I have always told my players that the level which they have shown in many matches is such that in any individual match they can beat even the strongest team in the world."
Colombia have six points after two victories, with Ivory Coast second in Group C on three points. Japan and Greece both have a single point, though the Europeans have an inferior goal difference.