Thursday, June 07, 2007

Japan invokes "kamikaze option" for Asian Cup

Japan coach Ivica Osim is trying to instil the daring spirit of the kamikaze in his players ahead of their tilt at a third straight Asian Cup next month. The kamikaze were Japanese pilots trained in World War II to make a suicidal crash attack, especially upon a ship.

According to AFP, the Bosnian employed what he called a “kamikaze” line-up of five midfielders, including Celtic star Shunsuke Nakamura, behind Eintracht Frankfurt striker Naohiro Takahara, for their match against Colombia on Tuesday. “It was a dangerous option. Still, the kamikaze option worked in part. We managed to survive,” Osim said after Japan held the Latin American side to a scoreless draw.

“I think coach Osim wanted to try many things and I tried to answer him with my plays,” said Nakamura, the 2004 Asian Cup most valuable player. "It is becoming clearer which direction the team are going. I am beginning to know the timing for giving what I have,” he added. “It’ll be great to win the Asian Cup for the third straight time. The level of Asia is rising but Japan must get ahead of them. As you know, it will be a battle of pride.”

Naohiro Takahara has also warned that Australia's arrival in the AFC Asian Cup has made his country's bid for a third straight title more difficult. "To me, Australia's inclusion seems out of place and it will make things more difficult," he told AFP. In the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Japan crashed to physically tough Australia's three-goal rampage in the final eight minutes for a 3-1 loss in their opener.

It is not known whether Socceroos coach Graham Arnold will invoke the 'Kokoda Spirit' if Australia meets Japan during the quarterfinals or later in the Asian Cup. In the 1942 Battle of Kokoda in the mountains of New Guinea, Australia's part-time militia halted the Japanese imperial army's advance through Asia for the first time.

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