TAMPA, FLORIDA – Japan manager Alberto Zaccheroni says Samurai Blue have their work cut out in the coming week ahead of their World Cup opener against Cote d’Ivoire, and was far from pleased despite the team wrapping up its training camp with a thrilling 4-3 win over Zambia on Friday night.
The Italian’s men go into the finals on the back of five wins in succession but the Asian champions have developed a worrying habit of conceding first, and they had to come from two goals down to see off a spirited Zambia, which didn’t qualify for Brazil.
“Obviously we can’t carry on like this,” said Zaccheroni, whose team also conceded first before seeing off Costa Rica 3-1 here on Monday night. “I’m thinking about the things we need to put right. The result wasn’t important tonight but the performance was.
“I told the players before the game that we have to sort out these problems in the next week. This team has its own logic. The players have followed that logic and played so well in the past but tonight we didn’t have it.”
Defender Maya Yoshida echoed Zaccheroni’s comments.
“We wanted to take the lead. A see-saw game is not what was required,” Yoshida said. “We wanted a high quality performance and a good result too. The positive was the way that we came back in the second half.”
Japan looks, on paper at least, to be in one of the most open first-round pools in the World Cup, with Colombia and Greece also in Group C, a view Zaccheroni agreed with.
“The Japanese media probably think we are in an easy group and so does the media of the other countries,” he said. “In my personal opinion it is a balanced group. Some people are of the opinion that Colombia have the edge technically, but we don’t know what will happen in any of the games in Group C. All of the teams have the possibility (of winning).”