Japan promise to improve in Asian Cup

DOHA - Japan's disappointing start to their Asian Cup campaign is down to a busy schedule resulting in a lack of warm-up matches, coach Alberto Zaccheroni said on Wednesday.

Japan required a stoppage-time equaliser to draw 1-1 with Jordan, ranked 107th by FIFA, in their Asian Cup opener in Qatar, their first game since they drew with South Korea in mid-October.

"The reason I did not have friendlies was because of the player's schedule, especially those players abroad," Zaccheroni told reporters near the Khalifa Stadium.

"Of course some players have not played for a long time while some have just finished their season," referring to those in Japan, where the campaign ended with the Emperors Cup last month.

The Blue Samurai, among the pre-tournament favourites, face Syria at the Qatar Sports Club on Thursday knowing defeat and a win for Jordan over Saudi Arabia in the other Group B match would mean an early exit, but Zaccheroni was confident of progression.

"There is no problem we cannot solve," The Italian insisted of the three-times champions.

"We need to speed up our play and improve our physical condition. For one month some of my players did not have proper matches to prepare. We can improve and solve this problem in the future."


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