Okada says Japan needs to play stout defense against Denmark



National team boss Takeshi Okada on Tuesday underlined the importance of cutting off the supply line to lanky striker Nicklas Bendtner ahead of Japan’s crucial meeting with Denmark.

The Blue Samurai go into their final Group E game in Rustenburg on Thursday night needing only a point to secure their passage into the last 16, thanks to a superior goal difference over the southern Scandinavians.

“Denmark are a good, very organized team. It won’t be an easy match and the key for us will be how we deal with their aerial set pieces and long balls. We also have to try and unlock a tight defense,” Okada told reporters after training at Outeniqua Park.

“We have viewed video footage of their (Denmark’s) set pieces and had a good look at how they operate at the back and in offense,” said Okada. “Bendtner is the key man to watch and he will be their main threat.”

“Ideally we would like to overwhelm them and score 10 goals, but obviously it won’t be as easy as that and I expect a very tough, very close game. It is a big match for both teams and it will come down to more than tactics. We must make sure we put absolutely everything we have out there.”

Japan edged Cameroon 1-0 in its opening game and defended heroically before being undone by a Wesley Sneijder strike in the second half of Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to the Netherlands in Durban.

On Thursday, the Japanese will be getting bodies behind the ball and looking to choke the 1992 European champions, but Denmark coach Morten Olsen said he was not worried about where his side’s goals would come from.

“Somebody has said that we have problems scoring but I don’t believe so,” said Olsen. “We know what we have to do and if you qualify (for the World Cup) from a group that includes Sweden and Portugal then you are a good team.”

Denmark beat Cameroon 2-1 on Saturday in Pretoria after losing 2-0 to the already qualified Netherlands.

The Danes beat Japan 3-2 in their only previous meeting in a friendly in Copenhagen in July 1971.