Japan promises to return to their aggressive style as they move on to their match against Greece on Thursday.
Despite the excitement following Keisuke Honda’s brilliant shot from 20 meters out, followed by solid try from Atsuto Uchida a few minutes later, you could tell that it was just a matter of time before Ivory Coast’s aggressive play got the better of Japan, who found it difficult to develop any offense in the second half, and found themselves playing on their heels. (Read a detailed recap of the Japan-Ivory Coast match.)
Shinji Kagawa admitted to more than his fair share of nerves in his World Cup debut, and the midfielder’s play seemed to lack its usual speed and grace.
What makes the Samurai Blue an exciting team to watch is their willingness to attack, even if this kind of play leaves their defense vulnerable. But there’s no changing now, and the players know that if they are going to go down, they need to go down shooting. Striker Shinji Okazaki explained that this was part of the team’s DNA, and shying away from their natural style was what got them into trouble.
“We kept back,” Okazaki said. “Then when we tried to go forward, we screwed up. We’re a team that attacks, and we just need to create more chances.”
Greece is smarting from its 3-0 thrashing at the hands of the Colombian side, so look for a fierce match on Thursday morning.
Main Image: Keisuke Honda makes his way past Ivory Coast midfielder Cheick Ismael Tiote, FIFA World Cup/Facebook