Asian Cup: Honda says Japan must go for jugular against Jordan

January 19, 2015 5:25 am 

BRISBANE, Australia, Jan. 18 — Japan may only need a point in their final group game against Jordan on Tuesday to reach the quarterfinals of the Asian Cup, but AC Milan midfielder Keisuke Honda says the team must not let up and has called for exactly the same approach as in Friday's 1-0 win against Iraq.

Honda squandered several chances in Friday's game, but his 23rd-minute penalty ensured Japan has a maximum six points from two games and kept the Blue Samurai on course for a place in the last eight and a second consecutive continental title.

Japan and Jordan have both hammered eliminated Palestine (4-0 and 5-1, respectively), and Iraq are expected to do the same in the final round of Group D matches.

A big win for Iraq, who rarely troubled Japan, coupled with a defeat for Japan against Jordan could see the favorites eliminated from the group stage.

"Obviously there is always the danger of that happening," Honda told reporters after Saturday morning's training session in Brisbane.

"You can see Palestine losing that game by a big margin so we have to be focused right from the start (against Jordan), just the way we were against Iraq."

Captain Makoto Hasebe was pleased with Japan's performance against Iraq and said the team would be aiming to take all three points against Jordan and go through as group winners.

"Iraq played better than Palestine, and so in that sense I think we did well to see out the win. We will go for three points against Jordan because we want to get to the quarterfinals on a high note. Looking at it from a travel and scheduling point of view it would be much better if we go through as group winners," he said.

Japan scraped out a 1-1 draw against Jordan in their opening game at the 2011 Asian Cup in Qatar and were beaten 2-1 away in Amman in a World Cup qualifier in March 2013.

But goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima said, "The past is the past and this tournament is a new challenge. We didn't come here painting a picture in our minds of what we did four years ago."

"Melbourne is probably cooler than here (Brisbane), and over 90 minutes we can be more aggressive against Jordan."

"We are only thinking about winning. Our first objective is to qualify for the next round, but our main target goes way beyond that."

Mainz striker Shinji Okazaki trained separately from the main group after taking a knock to his left shin, while Yasuyuki Konno sat out the session with a sore left hamstring. (PNA/Kyodo)



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