By: Jacob Singer
As the lowest ranked team in the World Cup, Japan has nothing to lose and plans to play to win. Keisuke Honda has declared that they will play attacking football. Despite that claim they have only scored a goal in the past four matches. In a nutshell, while they are one of the big fishes in the Asian Football Confederation, they are Koi in the ocean of international competition.
Their group stage will be difficult. Beating Cameroon (FIFA World Ranking 19th) or the Netherlands (4th) seems to be an
Photo from fOTOGLIF
impossibility. They might pull out a victory or a draw against Denmark, but even that seems like a stretch.
They do have a few players with European club experience and international goals. Shunsuke Nakamura has twenty-four goals with Japan and has played club soccer at Celtic and Espanyol. Keisuke Honda has played club soccer in the Netherlands and is currently playing for CSKA Moscow. These experienced midfielders will need to step into leadership roles and take control of the game where they can. With sixteen goals apiece, Shinji Okazaki and Keiji Tamada will be the forwards with eyes for the back of the net.
Saying Japan scored only one goal in the past four matches isn’t completely true. In a friendly match against England, they scored two own goals. Nerves can get the best of experienced professionals at the World Cup. Not only will the Japanese squad be taking on the world’s best footballers, but they will do it all with a billion people watching. The World Cup will be an experience that they, as individuals, will never forget and a stepping stone for a developing national program.