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Kagawa laments poor personal performance

by Gus Fielding

Kyodo

Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa admitted he had trouble sleeping on Saturday night and he was his own biggest critic after a sub-par performance in Japan’s 2-1 defeat to Cote d’Ivoire in their opening game of the World Cup finals.

“I lost a battle with myself,” Kagawa told Kyodo News after Sunday’s training session when asked why he had been unable to make an impact on the game in Recife.

“There was pressure and nerves and at the start I made mistakes and I’m taking a good look at myself. I couldn’t get into a good rhythm and was beaten psychologically.

“Our opponents were better than we expected and there was not much space (to exploit). We went into the match thinking we would be able to do well going forward, but both myself and the team were stiff and couldn’t move well.”

“It was the first game of the World Cup and you go into it thinking you can play your own style of soccer. But we didn’t defend well and could not string passes together and the atmosphere in the first game (gets to you),” he added.

The defeat has left Japan needing to beat Greece in Natal on June 19 to stand a realistic chance of making it out of Group C, but Kagawa told reporters not to write Japan off just yet.

“We couldn’t play our soccer and I was unable to do anything but all of the players have worked hard over the last four years for this World Cup and it is still the group stage and we are not out yet. We just have to try and prepare for the next game and go and win it,” he said.

“We can’t let it end here. I still think we can play well and hopefully we can fix things. In order to win our second and third games we just have to continue believing in ourselves and get ready.”