Saturday, June 13, 2009

Japan confident of victory despite sending second string team

Japan confident of victory despite sending second string team.
Japan will send an understrength squad to Melbourne to face Australia on June 17, with Celtic midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura not making the trip as he nurses a groin injury.

Nakamura is joined on the sidelines by influential Gamba Osaka playmaker Yasuhito Endo, while VfL Wolfsburg representatives Makoto Hasebe and Yoshito Okubo have also pulled out, as has in-form VVV Venlo midfielder Keisuke Honda.

Despite the long absentee list, Japan coach Takeshi Okada remains confident that his side can inflict Australia's first defeat of the campaign in front of an anticipated crowd of more than 80,000 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

In doing so Japan will aim to become the first team to score against Australia in the final round of Asian World Cup qualifiers, with both of these sides having already confirmed their places at next year's World Cup finals in South Africa.

Victory over Australia would see Japan move to the top of the standings, with Takeshi Okada hoping that a side comprised primarily of players from the domestic J. League can get the job done in Melbourne.

Australia have been widely criticised by their domestic press for the conservative tactics adopted by Dutch coach Pim Verbeek, but the dour approach has yielded results for the phlegmatic former coach of South Korea.

Nevertheless the pressure is on Verbeek to produce a commanding performance against Japan, with the laconic Dutch tactician struggling to win over his critics despite Australia's recent good form.

The two sides drew 0-0 when they met in Yokohama in February.

Copyright © Michael Tuckerman & Soccerphile.com

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