Ivica Osim has blasted the Japan Football Association for bungling the national team’s build up to the upcoming Asian Cup finals.
The Bosnian coach is raging that his players still have to play two more rounds of J. League matches before reigning champion Japan’s opener on July 9, while their rivals either put their feet up or work on vital team tactics.
“The players are tired and their motivation is down. It could be a first in any competition: One team enters without specialized preparation. It could be a good experience,” deadpanned Osim.
“The other teams already had 20 days or more on their own to prepare. That’s what happens everywhere else in the world. It’s the fashion in football to go into camp and prepare.
“So the Japanese approach is a new approach — we don’t prepare. But it means there’s less spending.”
The final round of J. League games before the tournament is on June 30 and Japan will have two mini training camps before leaving for Vietnam on July 4. Japan plays Qatar in its Group B opener in Hanoi before taking on the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam.
Osim named a provisional 30-man squad earlier this week and is expected to trim this figure down to 23 before the squad leaves Japan.
Speaking at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo on Thursday, the coach warned against people expecting a third straight continental crown to follow Japan’s triumphs in Lebanon in 2000 and China in 2004.
“All Asian teams want to beat Japan. That is true. It is not only for football, but for historical and economical reasons,” said Osim.
“They have that extra motivation against us and we need to have an answer to it. But what I fear is that Japanese players will not have the time or the strength to react to that extra motivation.”
The Asian Cup runs July 7-29 and will be cohosted by Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia.
Japan friendly set
Japan will face Cameroon in a friendly match in Oita on Aug. 22, with the Under-22 side to play Vietnam on the same day in Tokyo, the Japan Football Association said Thursday.
The JFA had considered a plan to hold the senior national team’s clash with the Africans on a different date but eventually decided to stage it on the same day, an official FIFA match day, to make it easier for Japan’s Europe-based players to take part.
It is the first time two national team games will be held on the same day in Japan. The Cameroon game at Kyushu Oil Dome will kick off at 6:40 p.m. before the Olympic team plays Vietnam at National Stadium at 8:30.
Japan’s Under-17s will also be playing on Aug. 22 against Nigeria at the Under-17 World Cup being held in South Korea.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.