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Japan keeps WC hopes alive

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

ITU, Brazil - Goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima says Japan still believe in themselves as they prepare for a must-win game to keep their World Cup hopes alive after defeat in their opening match.

Coach Alberto Zaccheroni admitted he could be forced into a radical rethink after a 2-1 loss to Ivory Coast, during which the Asian champions took the lead only to see the Africans hit back with two goals.

The veteran Italian coach had some strong words, saying he expected more from his players, who were out-fought in Recife by Ivory Coast, inspired by substitute Didier Drogba.

Japan next face Greece in Natal on Friday before tackling Colombia in Cuiaba.

"It's important that we have to be fresh for the next game. We have to change our minds for the next game," said Kawashima after a training session back at the team's Itu base, refusing to be drawn on what Zaccheroni had said to his players.

"We just have to give 100 per cent to win the game," added the goalkeeper, who plays his club football for Belgium's Standard Liege.

Manchester United playmaker Shinji Kagawa was asked whether it would benefit Japan to play Greece next as opposed to group C leaders Colombia, who may have already qualified by the time the teams meet. But he said the order of games did not matter.

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