Japan urged to snap out of slumber

TOKYO - Japan have been accused of failing to set pulses racing ahead of this year's World Cup by the country's honorary football president.

Former Japan Football Association (JFA) chief Saburo Kawabuchi ordered the Blue Samurai to excite fans before the tournament kicks off in South Africa on June 11.

"The reason there is no World Cup fever is that Japan have failed to give us any decent performances," the 73-year-old told Saturday's Sankei Sports newspaper.

"In their last three games (before the World Cup) they have to do something to make the nation feel they can do well at the tournament. That is what's missing."

The JFA have struggled to sell tickets for Japan's matches this year while Takeshi Okada's side have frequently been booed off the pitch.

Okada's JFA employers and players have been less than supportive of the coach's declared target of a semi-final finish in South Africa.

Kawabuchi joined former Japan captain Hidetoshi Nakata for the arrival of the World Cup trophy in Tokyo on Friday.

Asked about Japan's chances of lifting the World Cup this year, Kawabuchi joked: "I think we'll pass on it this year. We're only looking to go to the last four!"

Japan have been drawn in Group E of the World Cup against Netherlands, Cameroon and Denmark.

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