Soccer

Japan to play friendlies against Brazil, Belgium

Kyodo

Japan will play Brazil and Belgium in friendly matches in Europe in November, the Japan Football Association said Friday.

Japan’s national team, 40th in the FIFA world rankings, will face second-place Brazil in Lille, France, on Nov. 10, and Belgium, ranked fifth, at a location yet to be decided on Nov. 14. All three squads have qualified for the World Cup finals in Russia next year.

“This is a good opportunity for us to grow and it will allow us to see where we stand prior to the World Cup,” Japan coach Vahid Halilhodzic said in a statement.

“People will probably predict that our opponent will be the winner in both games, but we want to boldly take up the challenge. We will respect our opponents while respecting ourselves, and aim to win as we improve ourselves,” he said.

Japan, set to play Brazil for the first time since October 2014, have two draws and nine losses against the South American powerhouse. Against Belgium, the Japanese have two wins and two draws, having last met the European team in November 2013.

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