NEWCASTLE, Australia - Ahead of Japan's opening Asian Cup game against Palestine today, Samurai Blue ace Keisuke Honda said he wants to produce tangible results at the tournament to meet fans' expectations.
The opener will be Japan's first competitive match since the FIFA World Cup in June, when the team was eliminated in the group stage.
"We won't be able to meet [fans'] expectations unless we start producing results," the AC Milan forward said.
In the previous Asian Cup held in Qatar, Honda was chosen as the tournament MVP as Japan won the confederation title.
However, Honda warned against too much optimism, saying, "Few players on the team know how difficult it is [to win the title].
"It's dangerous to think that we can somehow make it through when it comes to the Asian Cup. We shouldn't forget that we narrowly won the title the previous time," he said.
Since Japan started its training camp on Dec. 29, Honda frequently had talks with Stuttgart defender Gotoku Sakai as the two players both play on the right side. They have discussed how they plan to play their positions and when to launch attacks.
Many Asian teams play defensively when they face Japan, relying on counterattacks. The Samurai Blue also have to battle against the heat, as Australia is now in midsummer.
"It takes time to get adjusted to the heat," Honda said.
"We don't need to play a fancy game. Decreasing mistakes would help us increase the number of chances," Honda added, hinting at the possibility that Japan will not stick with its specialty - passing - in seeking goals.
Despite the heat, Honda announced himself ready for the Samurai Blue's opening game.
"A professional is someone who prepares to make himself ready [for the opening game]," Honda said.
After Monday's Group D game, Japan will face Iraq on Friday and Jordan on Jan. 20.Speech