'We have confidence': Japanese players past and present upbeat ahead of Germany clash
CNA's Matthew Mohan speaks to Japan forward Takefusa Kubo and ex-international Yoshito Okubo.
DOHA: They may be in a group boasting the likes of four-time world champions Germany and 2010 World Cup winners Spain, but Japan remains upbeat ahead of their opening game against the Germans on Wednesday (Nov 23).
Speaking to CNA after a training session on Tuesday (Nov 22), Real Sociedad forward Takefusa Kubo said his side were "feeling good".
"We did all (that we could) to prepare for tomorrow's game," said the 21-year-old. "(We are not overconfident) but we have confidence and we'll try to win."
The Germans are ranked eleventh in the world, while Japan sit 13 spots below.
The Blue Samurai will have 19 players appearing at the tournament for the first time, one of which is Kubo.
The majority of the squad play in Western Europe, with only seven J-League players in the team.
Head coach Hajime Moriyasu had previously said that the goal for Japan is to get beyond the last 16. And this was reiterated by youngster Kubo.
"I think that all of the groups are difficult," he said. "The objective is simple. We have to win one or two matches, and our objective is going to the quarter-final."
Speaking to CNA, former Japanese international Yoshito Okubo agreed that Japan had a chance of progressing from Group B.
But, he pointed out that they would have to stay defensively solid against the Germans.
"The important thing is to defend well, and then go on the counter-attack. Get one goal and that will change the game," said Okubo, who has featured at two World Cups and is the all-time top scorer in the J-League with 191 goals.
Giving the example of Germany's opening match defeat to Mexico in the last edition of the tournament, Okubo pointed out that anything can happen.
Japan reached the knockout stages at the 2018 World Cup, but were eliminated in heartbreaking fashion by Belgium after going 2-0 up only to lose 3-2.
"I was very jealous of the young players (when I knew about the team's draw for the tournament)," he added.
"It is a great chance for the players to play against Germany, not just in a friendly game, but in an actual World Cup."
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