Javier Aguirre singled out Shinji Kagawa for particular praise following Japan's Asian Cup victory over Jordan on Tuesday.
Javier Aguirre hailed the performance of Shinji Kagawa in a 2-0 win over Jordan but sought to play down Japan's chances of retaining their Asian Cup crown.
The 2011 champions rarely got out of second gear in dispatching the Gulf nation at AAMI Park on Tuesday, sealing top spot in Group D with maximum points and without conceding a goal in their three matches played.
Kagawa netted his first competitive international goal since the Confederations Cup in June 2013 to make sure of the points in Melbourne, after Keisuke Honda had opened the scoring, and Aguirre singled out the Borussia Dortmund playmaker for special praise.
"Shinji's a very complete player, he can play outside, inside, more at the front, more in behind," Aguirre said. "His role in the team, the main part is to create. But I'm asking him to go more to the penalty area.
"He's doing very well, the penalty kick we got in the last game was because of his movement, so I'm very happy," he added, referring to the 1-0 win over Iraq on Sunday.
Former Manchester United player Kagawa was delighted to register his first goal for Japan since a friendly win over Zambia in June last year, with the 25-year-old now looking ahead to the quarter-final against the United Arab Emirates in Sydney on Friday.
"Obviously I was very happy, but the team's victory was the most important thing," he said. "I saw my team-mates were very happy with my goal and that made me very happy as well.
"A very tough game is waiting for us so we need to prepare well to win that game."
If they overcome UAE, the defending champions will face either China or hosts Australia in the last four. Regardless of the opposition, former Mexico boss Aguirre is taking nothing for granted heading into the knockout stages.
"From my experience in the Copa America, World Cup and Gold Cup, I can say our chances are the same as the other seven teams," he said.
"We start from zero now, we have to fight hard for 90 minutes to have a chance of winning."comments