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Football: Japan star demands more from Kashiwa

He said they must step it up a notch before next game. -AFP

Sat, Dec 10, 2011

TOYOTA, Japan - Japanese starlet Hiroki Sakai, who is reportedly a target for the Brazilian side Santos, says his Kashiwa Reysol side must play better if they are to reach the semi-finals of the Club World Cup.

The talented 21-year-old right-back impressed as in-form Kashiwa snatched the Japanese championship to secure the last spot at the continental club title on home soil.

The J-League winners overpowered amateurs Auckland City on Thursday to secure a quarter-final showdown against CONCACAF champions Monterrey of Mexico, but laboured in the second-half to extend the 2-0 scoreline.

"We managed to break down Auckland, but we really struggled to finish them off," said the J-League Young Player of the Year, who has been dubbed "a Japanese Daniel Alves" and is a product of Kashiwa's youth system.

"We must attack more right from the start. We defended well until the end, and we snuffed out Auckland's attacking threat. Still, we'll have to step it up a notch for the next game," he told

Fellow flying full-back Alves will jet out next week with Barcelona for the Club World Cup.

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