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Zac pleased with progress at national team camp

by Gus Fielding

Kyodo

Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni says there were plenty of positives to take from the national team’s mini-camp and has not ruled out deploying an unfamiliar 3-4-3 formation for the Asian champions’ final World Cup qualifying warm-up against Azerbaijan in Shizuoka on May 23.

“Over these three days the communication has been good and we have been making an effort and discussing a system the players are not normally used to,” Zaccheroni told reporters Wednesday as the three-day get-together for J. League players wrapped up in Chiba Prefecture.

Japan drew 0-0 with the Czech Republic and Peru in June last year and labored past minnows Vietnam 1-0 the last time they operated with a 3-4-3 shape that many players have grumbled about not being able to get to grips with.

“It is a system that we can use depending on the situation and is not something I am going to completely scrap,” said Zaccheroni.

“I told the players before they went their separate ways today that they had done a great job and been focused over these three days. I felt the players came to the camp with a lot of motivation.”

“Obviously there are things that we could do and things that we could not but it was great that the players at least tried to make things work. After all, no J. League teams use this system.”

Zaccheroni used the system for the most part as the team finished the camp with a 5-1 win over Meiji University in Wednesday’s training match.

“At this point in time, (the 3-4-3 system) is still an option and we want to keep working on it so we can have it ready for when the time comes that we need to use.

“It is important that the players showed enthusiasm in trying to understand the system,” said the Italian.

Zaccheroni also singled out five U-23 players he called up for the camp — Shuichi Gonda, Genki Haraguchi, Hiroshi Kiyotake, Yuya Osako and Hiroki Sakai — for praise.

“The Olympic players that we have here with us are very talented and have plenty of potential. They are players that can take Japanese soccer forward.”

“Of course I am not the coach of a J. League club so don’t tell them what they have to do (at their clubs), but as national team coach I can tell them what they need to do to improve at international level.”

After the Azerbaijan friendly, Japan host Oman and Jordan at Saitama on June 3 and 8, respectively. They travel to Australia to play the Socceroos on June 12 for their first away test in the final round of qualifiers for Brazil 2014.