Play like samurai v Socceroos: Japan coach

Aug 30, 2017 - 9:13 AM Besieged Japan coach Vahid Halilhodzic has called for his side to play like "11 samurai" in Thursday's must-win World Cup qualifier against the Socceroos.

Japan can book a spot in Russia next year with victory over Australia - but if they don't, Halilhodzic will reportedly be axed from his position.

An animated Halilhodzic urged the sold-out crowd at Saitama Stadium to find their voice and even called for greater support from the Japanese media as he left Wednesday's official media conference after admitting "we do have a lot of problems as a team".

"What is necessary is 11 samurai - the warriors," the Bosnian said.

"That is how we are going to get the victory in our hands.

"On the road to Russia, no one will give it to you for free. We have to seek for it. We have to be brave and play with decisiveness.

"If we are successful ... thinking of all the challenges we have, the sense of achievement will be even higher.

"For that purpose, we need the supporters cheering us."

Halilhodzic said he had conducted in-depth analysis of the Socceroos' 23-man squad for the past two months.

"I know the Australian team as if it was my own team," he said.

"When I saw the list of 23 (players), I could see two possibilities about how they're going to come into the match - to have more in the midfield or be more aggressive."

A new-look Samurai Blue outfit is anticipated with several of their key players in recent years no longer at the heights they once had been.

Keisuke Honda plays in Mexico while Shinji Kagawa has been coming off the bench for Borussia Dortmund.

Both could be overlooked on Thursday for starting berths, while Italian-based defender Yuto Nagamoto is battling injury.

Halilhodzic said there was a silver lining because the Socceroos wouldn't have too much intelligence on some of the lesser-known players in their ranks.

Japan face a difficult trip next week to Jeddah to face Saudi Arabia and will need to avoid defeat - if they are beaten by Australia - to qualify for the World Cup.

Source: AAP

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