Football

Japan, Greece have goals in mind

Japan and Greece to throw caution to the wind in must-win game

GROUP C

JAPAN v GREECE

(Tomorrow, 6am, SingTel mio TV Ch 141 & StarHub TV Ch 223)

Let's go for goal: That is the buzzword in both camps when Japan face Greece in a high-stakes shoot-out match with their participation in the tournament hanging on a thread after opening losses.

Japan were out-muscled by Ivory Coast 2-1 and Greece thumped 3-0 by Colombia, which means they have no choice but to go for three points tomorrow morning (Singapore time).

Although their fate will depend on the outcome of Colombia's showdown with the Ivory Coast earlier in the day, what is not in doubt is that neither Japan nor Greece have much margin for error in their clash at the Estadio das Dunas.

Japan's England-based defender, Maya Yoshida, believes it will be crucial for the Blue Samurai to score first against the Greeks.

"Of course we lost the first match so at the moment, we're very disappointed. But we still have two games to go," said the Southampton centre back.

OPTIMISTIC

But Yoshida was adamant the Asian giants had not given up hope of progressing to the knock-out rounds for only the third time in their history.

"Greece lost as well. They have good defenders and tactics," he added.

"They have a good orientation defensively, so if we get the first goal, they have to come forward, so we will have a chance to take more initiative."

Playmaker Shinji Kagawa agreed that caution may have to be thrown to the wind if Japan are to avoid crashing out.

"Greece are going to attack us, so we have no option but to start with the same strategy," said the Japan and Manchester United midfielder.

Keisuke Honda, who faded badly in the second half against the Ivorians after firing Japan ahead in the 16th minute, insisted his teammates had picked themselves up after the defeat in Recife.

"We've got it out of our system," said Honda. "Losing wasn't what was shocking, it was not being able to play to our strengths.

"The best characteristics of the Japanese turned against us. We're a diligent side and when we started trying too hard, it destroyed us."

Former European champions Greece, too, will not abandon their more adventurous style despite letting in three against the Colombians, almost matching the four goals they conceded in 10 qualifying matches for the World Cup.

Experienced striker Giorgios Samaras said: "Everyone expected we would have 11 men behind the ball, defend, defend, defend and give everything to keep a clean sheet.

POSITIVE APPROACH

"But I think what they saw was a team that liked to attack, that moved the ball really well, and that tried always to create chances.

"We went out to win against Colombia, and that philosophy will not change. We just hope it brings a better result for us because Japan are now a must, must-win game for us.

"We created chances against Colombia and that's something we can't forget.

"On another day, it could have been us winning, and that's something we need to take into this massive match."

- Wire Services.

World Cup