• Kyodo


Japan will face reigning world champion Brazil, Euro 2004 winner Greece and CONCACAF champion Mexico in Group B at the 2005 Confederations Cup in Germany after the draw was made on Monday.

News photoZico smiles Monday in Frankfurt during the draw for the 2005 Confederations Cup. Japan will play in the same group as 2002 World Cup champion Brazil.

Germany, which qualified as host, was joined in Group A by African champion Tunisia, Oceania’s top team Australia and Copa America runnerup Argentina in the 15-day tournament that organizers will be using as a dress rehearsal for the 2006 World Cup finals.

Japan, which beat host China to retain the Asian Cup in August, will kick off its campaign in the biennial competition assembling the continental champion against Mexico on June 16 in Hannover.

The 2001 Confederations Cup runnerup then takes on Greece in Frankfurt three days later, before wrapping up its first-stage campaign against Zico’s native Brazil in Cologne on June 22.

“We are in a very difficult group, but in this competition they are all big teams,” Japan coach Zico was quoted as saying on the official Web site of soccer’s world governing body FIFA after the draw.

“All of them have won important competitions. Brazil has won five World Cups, Germany three, Argentina two. But we have plenty of time to prepare ourselves.

“Japan is getting ready to play in its third consecutive Confederations Cup. We will try to have a good tournament, but in the meantime, we have the ongoing World Cup qualifying campaign to think about,” added the Brazilian.

The top two teams from each group advance to the semifinals of the competition being held in five cities across Germany with the final to take place in Frankfurt on June 29.

Meanwhile, Zico said Monday he will reconsider his controversial plan to call up several ex-internationals including aging striker Kazuyoshi Miura for this month’s World Cup qualifier at home to Singapore.

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