Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Japan's passion to blow Australia out of Asian Cup

Japan goalkeeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi has warned Australia that the defending Asian Cup champions are "burning" to avenge last year's humiliating World Cup defeat. "We definitely want Australia again. We are burning for revenge and that would be a very special game for us," Kawaguchi told Kyodo News. "This might be the AFC Asian Cup but just playing Australia has a special significance all of its own." Kawaguchi, a 31-year-old veteran of three World Cups, could not stop Australia's three-goal rampage in the final eight minutes for a 3-1 loss in Germany.

"The AFC Asian Cup is an important tournament for the team but especially for me personally," Kawaguchi told Kyodo. "In the previous two tournaments I was in really good form and hopefully with the right preparation that will be the case this time around." Kawaguchi, a former Portsmouth 'keeper who helped Japan win the last two continental cups in Lebanon and China, said: "We are the top team so players on the other teams will be fired up to beat us."

Japan could meet Australia in the last eight if they win Group B and the Socceroos finish second in Group A, or vice versa. Japan play Vietnam, Qatar and United Arab Emirates in the first round while Australia have been drawn against Iraq, Oman and Thailand.

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