Japan will “struggle like samurai” in Tuesday morning’s World Cup last-16 conflict with Croatia (2am AEDT) as they battle to succeed in the quarter-finals for the primary time, defender Yuto Nagatomo mentioned.
Japan reached the knockout spherical after gorgeous Germany and Spain to prime Group E however they don’t seem to be glad with what they’ve achieved thus far in Qatar.
Veteran Nagatomo is showing at his fourth World Cup and he urged his teammates to “present the samurai spirit to the world” in opposition to Croatia.
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“Before battle, the samurai would polish their weapons and refine their approach, but when they have been scared in battle, all that will depend for nothing,” the previous Inter Milan left-back.
“It’s the identical as soccer. Of course techniques and approach are vital, but when we’re scared, it doesn’t matter how a lot we’ve educated over the previous 4 years as a result of our approach will probably be no use.
“The most vital factor is to have braveness,” the 36-year-old added.
Japan have reached the final 16 at three earlier World Cups however they’ve but to make it so far as the quarter-finals.
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They have been eradicated on the first knock-out spherical 4 years in the past in Russia after they threw away a two-goal result in lose 3-2 to Belgium with the final kick of the sport.
Nagatomo mentioned the defeat had been on his thoughts for the previous 4 years and he is able to wipe away the reminiscence in opposition to Croatia.
“The previous 4 years have been robust for me however I feel we have now all overcome that and improved as gamers,” he mentioned.
“I’ve been enjoying for Japan for nearly 15 years and so far as I can see, that is the strongest staff we’ve ever had on the World Cup.”
Japan needed to come from behind to beat each Germany and Spain, and have been compelled to defend for lengthy intervals in opposition to opponents who dominated possession.
Coach Hajime Moriyasu needs his gamers to have extra of the ball in opposition to Croatia however urged them to indicate “resilience” regardless of the scenario.
“The gamers confirmed their capacity in opposition to Germany and Spain, they have been united as a staff and dug in and fought till the tip,” he mentioned.
“They have proved that after they play like that, it brings outcomes. Of course it’s vital to consider our opponents however to start with I would like our gamers to indicate what they’ll do.”
Meanwhile Luka Modric will proceed enjoying for Croatia past the World Cup, coach Zlatko Dalic mentioned.
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Real Madrid schemer Modric will win his 159th cap for his nation if he performs in opposition to Japan and remains to be making Croatia tick on the age of 37.
Modric has now appeared in 4 World Cups and 4 European Championships and Dalic mentioned his captain is just not able to retire from worldwide responsibility simply but.
“This won’t be the final match he’ll play for Croatia,” Dalic mentioned.
“He is skilled and in fine condition, you possibly can see how he’s in coaching, working to enhance himself. It’s unprecedented.
“We will want Luka for a while extra sooner or later.”
Modric began all three of Croatia’s first-round video games in Qatar as they completed second in Group F behind Morocco.
He is one in all a number of gamers remaining from the staff that was crushed by France within the ultimate in Russia 4 years in the past.
Defender Josko Gvardiol, who’s making his World Cup debut, mentioned he hoped Modric would stick round for future campaigns.
“When you come to a nationwide (staff) the place (Mateo) Kovacic, (Marcelo) Brozovic and Luka Modric are the midfielders, half of your issues are solved already,” mentioned the 20-year-old.
“You have so much much less in your thoughts, and I actually do hope this isn’t his final World Cup.”
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