Japan ready to strut stuff against Costa Rica

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Japan's win over Germany made headlines around the world, after they came from a goal down to upset the four-time world champions. AFP

Japan sashayed through Germany's defence to win their opening World Cup game but captain Maya Yoshida said the Blue Samurai cannot afford to "dance badly" against Costa Rica on November 27 (5pm Cambodian time).

Japan stunned the Germans 2-1 and now have the chance to take a big step towards the knock-out stage when they face a wounded Costa Rica in Group E.

The Central Americans opened their campaign on the wrong end of a 7-0 hiding by Spain but Yoshida insists Japan will not take their opponents lightly.

"The spotlight is on us after the last game and we have to make sure that we don't dance badly," the defender said on November 26.

"Make no mistake, when you win it makes you feel more comfortable. We have to stay calm, prepare well and concentrate on the plan to get us the win.
"We're not through yet."

Yoshida said that the Japanese media have tended to focus on the team's games against European heavyweights Germany and Spain ever since the draw was made, with the Costa Rica clash being "pushed to one side".

The captain is wary of a Costa Rican backlash after their Spanish humiliation.

"They got hammered in their previous game so I think they're really going to go for it," he said.

"There are no easy teams at the World Cup. They will be fighting for the pride of their country and we have to be mentally prepared to deal with that."

Japan's win over Germany made headlines around the world, after they came from a goal down to upset the four-time world champions.

Only seven of Japan's squad play their club football outside Europe and coach Hajime Moriyasu said the result was "no surprise" to his players.

"Japan have players in the Premier League and Bundesliga and it's normal for them to play against players from all over the world," he said.

"Of course people are saying it was a historic win for us, but for the players they prepared well and the result followed."

Japan have reached the knock-out round three times previously but they have never won their opening two games of a World Cup.

Victory over Costa Rica combined with a win for Spain over Germany later in the day would see Japan and Spain clinch their places in the last 16.

A win for Germany would put the group on a knife-edge and potentially make goal difference a deciding factor, but Moriyasu is refusing to get too far ahead of himself.

"More than thinking about goal difference, we're thinking about ways that we can win tomorrow's game because it will be a tough one," he said.