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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Honda Aims To Drive Japan Forward


Japan will enter their FIFA World Cupâ„¢ opener against Cameroon on Monday on the back of four straight defeats but there is no danger of them retreating into their defensive


This is the view of playmaker Keisuke Honda, who insists that attack remains the best form of defence for a Japan side who, as the lowest-ranked team, can be considered outsiders to advance from Group E, which also contains the Netherlands and Denmark. Speaking to FIFA from Japan’s base in George in the Western Cape, the CSKA Moscow midfielder said: “If you want to survive in the world of football, attack is the best strategy. Our coach says he really wants to bring in an offensive style of football.”

Coach Takeshi Okada rammed home that message after the 2-0 loss to Côte d’Ivoire in Japan’s final pre-tournament friendly in Sion, Switzerland last Friday, telling his players they were “not aggressive enough” in the final phase. Okada, who felt Japan needed the tough test the Ivorians provided, is hoping for a positive reaction. “Now we’re at this stage, it would be better if they took a defiant attitude and were spurred on by the situation,” he said of his squad.

When Japan qualified for these finals, Okada cited the semi-finals as his target in South Africa. This is the Asian side’s fourth consecutive FIFA World Cup appearance but while they reached the Round of 16 as hosts in 2002, they are still seeking a first victory beyond their own shores. Moreover, Okada, who was in charge for Japan’s first finals appearance in 1998, has not seen his team win since a 2-0 AFC Asian Cup qualifying victory over Bahrain in March. Since then they have suffered defeats against Serbia, Korea Republic, England and Côte d’Ivoire.

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