Football

Coach: Alberto Zaccheroni

Alberto Zaccheroni has done his best over four years in charge of Japan to dismiss the stereotype of Italian football men being focused on defence.

The Italian coach has transformed the Blue Samurai into a high-tempo attacking unit full of flair and capable of cutting open and scoring against the toughest of oppositions.

That exciting play is thanks to the exploits of playmakers Shinji Kagawa and Keisuke Honda, both of whom are ably supported by forward thinking fullbacks Yuto Nagatomo and Atsuto Uchida.

However, it comes at the cost of clean sheets.

Four goals were conceded against Uruguay and Italy last year, three against Brazil and China, and they also suffered upset losses against Belarus, Serbia, Bulgaria and Jordan.

That has taken some of the shine off Zaccheroni's early achievements in his first foray into international management.

As with most of the 32 coaches in Brazil, though, the acid test will be results at the Finals, with Japan eyeing a first World Cup quarter-final in their fifth consecutive appearance.

Japan have been given a favourable draw in Group C alongside Colombia, Greece and Ivory Coast, with Zaccheroni talking confidently of progression.

His contract status is a mystery and he has been linked with numerous jobs in Italy, which he has continued to downplay.

A first last-eight appearance could help return his reputation to its previous heady heights in Italy and leave the Blue Samurai looking for his replacement for their Asian Cup defence in Australia in January.

- Reuters.


Obviously there are teams at the World Cup with more quality than us. We must demand that quality to go with the intensity we bring. Intensity alone won't get the job done. Quality and the right mentality are also crucial if we want to beat the top teams.

- Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni


FINAL 23-MAN SQUAD

  • GOALKEEPERS: Eiji Kawashima, Shusaku Nishikawa, Shuichi Gonda
  • DEFENDERS: Masahiko Inoha, Yasuyuki Konno, Yuto Nagatomo, Masato Morishige, Atsuto Uchida, Maya Yoshida, Hiroki Sakai, Gotoku Sakai
  • MIDFIELDERS: Yasuhito Endo, Makoto Hasebe, Toshihiro Aoyama, Hotaru Yamaguchi, Shinji Kagawa, Manabu Saito, Keisuke Honda, Hiroshi Kiyotake
  • FORWARDS: Yoshito Okubo, Shinji Okazaki, Yoichiro Kakitani, Yuya Osako.
World Cup