sports

Okada confident Japan can reach World Cup semifinals

18 Comments

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

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18 Comments
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I think a lot of the bashers here are reading stuff into this that just hasnt been said.Okada is quoted as saying the TARGET was and still is the semi-finals,the use of the word confident is not his but JT's.My feeling is after years of disappointment in this game the Japanese are from from confident their team will do well and conversely almost expect defeat.Hence the media question asking if hes prepared to downgrade his initial ambition.

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HA HA HA HA, what absolute nonsense. "Oh, we Japanese..." (eresay wipes tears from his eyes)

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I remember last world cup and the team and media were all talking about Japan vs. Brazil as the big deciding match of the group in the week leading up to the first game against Australia. A 3-1 loss to Australia in that first game and it was pretty much all over from that point. Perhaps they should concentrate first on who will be in their group before talking about the semi-finals. They are not that strong a team. If they make the semis, that will be a real achievement.

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Okada was appointed as a stopgap remember, after Osim had his heart attack on the sideline. I didn't actually expect him to become the fulltime manager.

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“In Europe and South America, powerhouses have qualified as expected

This guy has no clue, the African countries are the ones to look out for and they will be causing major upset.

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Geez...what else is the guy supposed to say? "Uh...well compared to the rest of the countries we suck but you know....GAMBATTE!" Give the guy a break. So what if he's deluding himself. The players on the field will dictate whether they make it that far or not.

At least they're in the finals, unlike all my teams. Don't even get me started on Ireland not going!

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It's one thing for a nation's media to boost their team before a tournament; that's how they sell themselves. But it is something else for a national coach to make these ludicrous claims. Both Japan and South Korea did well in 2002, with the tremendous advantage of playing at home, and indeed South Korea did reach the semi finals. Other than the rare exception of North Korea in 1966, teams from Asia have not done well in either Europe or the Americas, and I don't see any reason why they would adapt to African conditions. Japan are currently ranked 43rd in the world. Apart from the teams in the top eight, if you're looking for a wild card to reach the semis then one of the African teams - maybe Cote d'Ivoire - would be a good bet.

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"...said Okada, who guided Japan to a winless World Cup debut at France 1998 in his first stint as national coach."

Best line in the article, hands down. Perhaps Okada forgot about what happened to the team the last time he was in charge and shooting off his mouth. They have indeed come a long way since then, but that's not saying much when they can't get past the first round.

Terusensei: "It isn't a bad thing for a coach to come out and say these things pre-tournament, it is something to talk about and it boosts the interest of the nation's fans."

I think your statement needs some qualification; it's not a bad thing to say things like, "I think our team has the potential to go this far or that far," or, "We'll do our best, and hopefully we can get into the semi-finals". When you have a history of losing in the first round if you even qualify for the event to begin with, it's irresponsible to say without a doubt that you'll get that far. The result is always as Pukey2 said, people are shocked and chagrined, and even blame other teams for cheating or bribing or what not when Japan loses -- or worst yet, as was the case with SKorea when they joint held it in 2002, they cheer AGAINST their co-hosts simply because the co-host went on when they failed.

While other countries, as OzKen said, engage in this kind of bragging or unwarranted claims of how great they are, only in Japan do you get a real sense from the general public that the semi-finals are something they are ENTITLED to.

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actually japan is one of the strongest teams in asia so that should hold them in good stead against the other teams from other continents. i guess a lot of people will be eating their words when japan does progress to the semi-final stage.

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Jaoan's style of play is too conservative. No striker nor height in attack leads to defensive hope. Okada lives in a dreamy world of what went wrong in '98 and school gymnasium speeches. Japan is developing as a soccer nation but has a long way to go.

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And that is exactly why many in Japan are always surprised when the team don't do well, and this applies to many other sports. The Japanese media is always predicting (or shall I say 'expecting') great things from their players that people never seem to understand why there's a nasty shock when things don't go their way. And now we have the coach doing his bit.

It happens everywhere. The English media are the worst by my experiences. They (England) severely lack class to be a serious contender yet the drums of victory beat every time and when they fail, they blame everything and everyone besides the players who aren't good enough. Japan will do well to not come last in their group. They have some good players and will be attractive to watch but Okada is a bad coach, and appointing him was a severely backwards step by the JFA.

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It isn't a bad thing for a coach to come out and say these things pre-tournament, it is something to talk about and it boosts the interest of the nation's fans.

And that is exactly why many in Japan are always surprised when the team don't do well, and this applies to many other sports. The Japanese media is always predicting (or shall I say 'expecting') great things from their players that people never seem to understand why there's a nasty shock when things don't go their way. And now we have the coach doing his bit.

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where they will dramaticaly lose to New Zealand on penalties after a thrilling 5 - 5 draw

hahahahahaha and that after a 9 man NZ cut there way through defending champions Italy to claim a 4-0 win.

Yes, Japan will be on their way home after the group stage. Their coach should shut up. The Japan soccer team is way to overrated only in Japan.

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Okada confident Japan can reach World Cup semifinals........where they will dramaticaly lose to New Zealand on penalties after a thrilling 5 - 5 draw

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They might make the 2nd round if they get an easier pool and find a striker from somewhere. For them, that is a successful world cup.

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It isn't a bad thing for a coach to come out and say these things pre-tournament, it is something to talk about and it boosts the interest of the nation's fans.

I think Japan will have a decent World Cup.

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What a dreamer. But it will sell more samurai Japan soccer shirts.

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why not just say that Japan will win the world cup by beating Brazil 10-0 in the final? Thats just about as plausible.

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