Japan will be at their peak physical condition when they head into the World Cup according to its coach Alberto Zaccheroni, who has modified the team in such a way that they are extremely good to watch. Coming into the World Cup 2014 as one of the top teams from Asia, much will be expected from Japan. They have done extremely well to win the three pretournament friendly matches up until now. They will still be facing the likes of Costa Rica and Zambia before taking on Ivory Coast in the first match of the World Cup.
Due to the recent form of the Ivorian’s, Japan have been installed as the favourites to get a win. This would put them in good shape ahead of the remaining two matches against Greece and Colombia. This could be the final tournament in charge of the Japan national team for Zaccheroni, as he is widely linked with a return to European club football. Key players like Maya Yoshida, Atsuto Uchida, and Makoto Hasebe have been lacking in gametime. However, they finally got it in the match against Cyprus, which finished as a 1-0 win for the Japanese.
Uchida scored the only goal of the game in the 43rd minute to give himself some confidence ahead of the tournament. “This team has a lot of experience with more players playing on the big stages in Europe. There weren’t so many players on our team playing abroad four years ago and we didn’t have much international experience. But now the players playing in Japan have also improved, and that combined with the fact that we have more international experience makes this team a different proposition from the one four years ago,” said Japan’s goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima.
Kawashima is the goalkeeper for Belgian outfit Standard Liege.