CLEARWATER, FLORIDA – Inter Milan defender Yuto Nagatomo insists the stamina-draining conditions that await Japan in Brazil at the World Cup finals will not diminish his performance. He said Friday that dealing with the heat is a psychological battle before it is a physical one.
Nagatomo said he was happy to be at Japan’s training camp in a “fantastic environment” by the beach in Florida, and also that he would be able to take part in full training later in the day after recovering from a bruised leg.
“The weather is hot here and the humidity levels are high but this is what I have been told it will be like in Brazil and I want to get properly accustomed to it,” said Nagatomo, a day after the squad arrived in the United States.
Nagatomo joined Japan’s first training camp in Kagoshima earlier this month after coming from the relatively drier climate of Europe, but does not view the more humid conditions at home, here and in Brazil as being an issue.
“I think it is something you can control mentally. It is not a problem. In fact I see it (humidity) as an advantage for me and something that can wear down opponents. The worst conditions suit me the best,” he said.
“If you think it is going to be tough, then that is how your body will respond, and if you think it will be a breeze, then your body will move accordingly. It all comes down to the power of your mind.
“Obviously it helps that I am in good condition but I am about 80 percent at the moment and I want to be 100 percent by the time the opening game (of the World Cup) comes around.”
He added: “Then after the first game I want to be 120 percent. I have calculated where I need to be and now it is just a case of getting ready and cranking it up. I want to make use of the last four years, being at the last World Cup and then going to play in Italy.”
Nagatomo declared himself fit to join full training after suffering an injury scare in Tuesday’s 1-0 World Cup warmup win over Cyprus.
Japan plays Costa Rica in Florida on Monday and then faces Zambia in another tuneup on June 6.
The Asian champions then move to Brazil and kick off their Group C campaign at the World Cup against Cote d’Ivoire on June 14.
Japan lost to Cote d’Ivoire in the run-up to the World Cup in South Africa, but Nagatomo believes Japan can exploit what he sees as defensive weaknesses.
“Ivory Coast have players up front that can attack but they can’t defend. If Uchi (Atsuto Uchida) at right back or Hiroki (Sakai) get forward, I don’t think they will be able to handle our overlapping runs on the flanks and I think if we take the right risk management and have central defenders and holding midfielders covering us we can break them down,” he said.