Football: Brazil test vital for Japan

Football: Brazil test vital for Japan
Japan's head coach Aguirre of Mexico gestures during their international friendly soccer match against Venezuela in Yokoham.

He has coached the likes of Atletico Madrid and Mexico, but his latest appointment could well be his most challenging, yet.

After the resignation of Italian Alberto Zaccheroni, Mexican Javier Aguirre is the latest man in the Japan hot seat.

Asia's giants will host Jamaica on Friday before flying out to Singapore for their glamour international friendly against record five-time world champions Brazil at the new 55,000-capacity National Stadium on Tuesday, and Aguirre is looking forward to the test in the Lion City.

"This will be a good preparation for us ahead of our campaigns in the Asian Cup and the World Cup qualifiers. Our players will get experience of playing abroad, away from home," said the 55-year-old yesterday.

"We'll travel soon after our game in Niigata (against Jamaica on Saturday) to Singapore. It can be a new experience for some of our players. For those who will play abroad for the first time, I expect our experienced players will provide them with good advice."

Japan suffered at this year's World Cup in Brazil.

The reigning Asian champions picked up a solitary point in their opening three group games - they drew with Greece and lost to Colombia and Ivory Coast - to finish bottom.

The 2015 Asian Cup Finals will be held in Australia in January and Aguirre has been tasked to lead Japan's title defence.

Aguirre has been in charge of the Blue Samurai in two friendly matches so far, losing to Uruguay 2-0 and drawing with Venezuela 2-2.

For the next two games, he has recalled Borussia Dortmund playmaker Shinji Kagawa in an effort to spark creativity and handed out first-time call-ups to J-League-based trio Gen Shoji, Tsukasa Shiotani and Yu Kobayashi.

Dunga's has named a strong squad for Brazil's own two friendlies - against deadly rivals Argentina in Beijing on Friday and the Japan date here on Tuesday.

Neymar, David Luiz and Oscar are all in the mix, along with midfield star Kaka, who has been recalled at the age of 32.

Already, 90 per cent of tickets have been sold for the game at the National Stadium and a huge swathe of blue is expected to occupy a part of the arena, as thousands of Japan fans have snapped up tickets, including some from Japan.

"I heard that many Japanese live in Singapore and are coming to the stadium to support the Japan national team. In return, we'd like to give them a match they will enjoy," said Aguirre.

"I heard the stadium is new and beautiful, and I'm grateful that we can play at the stadium with such good conditions."

IMPLICATIONS

However, the match does hold much wider implications for the Japan.

Having not tasted victory since a pre-World Cup friendly against Zambia on June 6, Aguirre must get his men right before January's Asian Cup Finals.

Iran have taken over as Asia's No. I side in Fifa's rankings, Japan are now second, with Australia third, followed by Jordan and then South Korea.

They will all be tough opponents for the defending champions, especially the Socceroos on home soil, and Aguirre says the match against Brazil will give him valuable clues about his players.

"The game against Brazil will be a very tough and difficult game for us, because Brazil are a top-three team in the world," he said.

"I'd like to use this match to assess our individual players, considering this is a friendly in the run-up to the Asian Cup, but our capability as a unit will be tested in the Brazil game."

I heard that many Japanese live in Singapore and are coming to the stadium to support the Japan national team. In return, we'd like to give them a match they will enjoy. -Japan coach Javier Aguirre


This article was first published on October 08, 2014.
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