TASHKENT – Japan captain Makoto Hasebe is relishing the prospect of putting one over on Uzbekistan when the joint Group C leaders lock horns in the third round of Asian qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup on Tuesday.
Japan clinched a berth at last summer’s World Cup finals in South Africa after beating the Uzbeks 1-0 in Tashkent in June 2009, courtesy of Shinji Okazaki’s ninth-minute effort.
But Hasebe was sent off in the 89th minute as Uzbekistan poured forward in search of an equalizer before then coach Takeshi Okada’s dismissal for complaining took a little gloss off the win.
“We got the right result so that was good but I got sent off at the end and put more pressure on my teammates. I’m looking forward to this match and although you might not exactly call it revenge, I will really be giving it a good go,” Hasebe told reporters Sunday after the team had its first training session since arriving in Tashkent.
Maya Yoshida spared Japan’s blushes with a 94-minute goal in a 1-0 defeat of North Korea in Saitama on Friday, while the Uzbeks won their opener by the same scoreline away to Tajikistan.
Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni worked on his trademark 3-4-3 system as he put his players through their paces on Sunday.
But Hasebe said, “We have players here playing this system for the first time and I think it was just a case of revising a few things. With everyone having watched this session and knowing what our coach is like, I very much doubt we will use it (on Tuesday).”