Japan soccer coach Takeshi Okada says his squad's target of a semifinal spot at next year's World Cup remains unchanged no matter who may stand in their way. "Nothing will change," he told media Friday when he was shown by journalists the complete list of 32 World Cup qualifiers and asked if he would still stick to the ambitious goal.
Asked which countries Japan wants to avoid at South Africa 2010, he said "I don't think about it at all. We've got tougher as a team and moved forward little by little in the past year. We may not look brilliant but we have more stable strength."
Last week, Algeria, France, Greece, Portugal, Slovenia and Uruguay became the last countries to qualify for the World Cup finals.
"In Europe and South America, powerhouses have qualified as expected. I think it will be a great competition," said Okada, who guided Japan to a winless World Cup debut at France 1998 in his first stint as national coach.
His World Cup target has been widely seen as unrealistic as Japan's best result yet was a last-16 spot in the 2002 edition it co-hosted with South Korea.© Wire reports