Japan coach Ivica Osim has issued a must-do-better warning and accused his players of “playing for the papers” in Friday’s uninspiring 2-0 win over Montenegro in the opening match of the three-nation Kirin Cup.
Yuji Nakazawa became the first Japan defender to reach double digits with his 10th national team goal and in-form striker Naohiro Takahara completed the victory in the 38th minute with his second goal in as many games in the Asian Cup warm up at Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa.
But despite the result, Japan looked desperately short of ideas against a poor Montenegrin side and an assured display from wing-back Yuichi Komano was the only bright spot in one of its most disjointed performances under Osim.
“We started well but then some players began playing for themselves instead of the team and that ruined the game. I found that very displeasing,” Osim told reporters after the match.
Osim singled out Kengo Nakamura for criticism after the Kawasaki Frontale midfielder went for goal instead of picking out Satoru Yamagishi, who was perfectly positioned to make it 3-0 early in the second half.
“(Nakamura) went for goal even though he had a man completely free. Would he done the same thing if we had been 1-0 down?” said Osim, who had slammed his bottle of water to the ground in frustration after watching Nakamura’s miss.
“I think we have got a situation here where certain players are more concerned about grabbing the headlines in the next day’s newspapers,” grumbled Osim.
With Celtic star Shunsuke Nakamura nursing a bruised ankle and Akira Kaji and influential defender Marcus Tulio Tanaka also injured, Osim was unable to field his strongest starting lineup against Montenegro.
The Bosnian coach said he hoped to have Shunsuke Nakamura fit for Tuesday’s meeting with Colombia in Japan’s final match before kicking off its defense of the Asian Cup in south-east Asia next month.
“Of course I want Nakamura to play but I am not a doctor. The most important thing is to get him back to 100 percent fitness,” said Osim.