• Kyodo


Japan coach Zico has warned his players to avoid any slip-ups in Saturday’s home friendly against Finland as they look to bounce back from last week’s comprehensive defeat against the United States.

Japan was beaten 3-2 in the U.S. friendly in its first match of World Cup year but the scoreline flattered the Asian champions, who were run ragged for over an hour at SBC Park in San Francisco.

“I have told the players they must not make the kind of mistakes they made against the United States,” Zico told a news conference on the eve of the Finland clash at Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa.

“We made far too many errors in the U.S. match. I have never seen the team put on the back foot for such a long period in a match since I took over as coach.

But we were rusty as it was our first game of the year. Although the match finished the way it did, I feel the players have got back their match fitness.

Now we must improve our accuracy,” said the Brazilian. Finland will be looking to post their first win under new coach Roy Hodgson after a 1-1 draw against Saudi Arabia and a 1-0 defeat to South Korea at a friendly tournament in Riyadh last month.

After the Finland match, Japan begins its defense of the Asian Cup with a home qualifier against India on Feb. 22 and then travels to Germany to play a friendly against Bosnia-Herzegovina on Feb. 28.

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