Japan depart for Florida for final World Cup preparations
Tokyo, May 30 (IANS) Japan' s national football team dubbed the "Samurai Blue" departed for Florida for their final preparations before their first World Cup match against the Cote d'Ivoire, June 14.
Manager Alberto Zaccheroni said Thursday that he expects his team to give nothing less than 100 percent. But following a mediocre 0-1 victory Tuesday over a gritty Cyprus team at a friendly here in Saitama, Zaccheroni refused to make any predictions regarding the Samurai Blue' s clashes in Group C, reports Xinhua.
The group, which pundits describe as fairly even, will also see Zaccheroni' s men face Greece June 19 and Colombia June 24.
Prior to their World Cup fixtures, the national team will play friendlies against Costa Rica, June 2 and Zambia June 6 in Tampa, before flying to Brazil for the real showdowns.
Hopes among the fans are high since Japan reached the last 16 at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and had no trouble with the Asian qualifying rounds, finishing four points ahead of Australia at the top of their final-round group, to secure their fifth successive World Cup appearance.
But Japan, ranked 47th in the world by FIFA, will have to find their passing flair going forward and be sharper in front of goal to equal or beat their 2010 placing.