- POSTED: 14 Jun 2014 22:38
Japan's midfielder Shinji Kagawa says the Asian champions need to show the world how good they are and the best place to display their abilities is in Brazil.
SAO PAULO: Asian champions Japan need to show the world how good they are and the best place to display their abilities is in Brazil, according to midfielder Shinji Kagawa.
The Blue Samurai won a record fourth Asian Cup in Qatar three years ago and were the first side to qualify for this year's finals last June when they reached a fifth successive World Cup since making their debut appearance in 1998.
Alberto Zaccheroni's men will open their Group C campaign against Ivory Coast on Saturday and are confident of improving on their last-16 exit to Paraguay in South Africa four years ago.
"We want the world to find out about Japan and how well we're capable of playing," Manchester United midfielder Kagawa was quoted as saying by the Kyodo news agency. "Because I still don't think we're that well known yet around the world.
"We go into the game like we always do through our usual preparations. Naturally, I think each and every one of us feels a bit of pressure because this is a massive tournament.
"But we've got to use that to get the most out of ourselves. We've always felt the first game is crucial. We need to have faith in one another and keep fighting."
The former Borussia Dortmund player, who has been moved to the left flank by Italian Zaccheroni, thinks the first game will be crucial if Japan are to advance from an open-looking group which also contains Colombia and Greece.
"We've got to play as a team at both ends of the pitch in order for us to have a chance of winning," Kagawa, who was not selected for South Africa in 2010, said. "Everyone has to work hard; it was like that four years ago.
"Most teams tend to be conservative in the first game. Not a whole lot separates you from the opposition; it's about concentration, or one lapse of it.
"We believe we can do it, and we've got to believe we can do it. I'm excited."