Okada blasts AFC over Asian Cup schedule

TOKYO - Japan coach Takeshi Okada has slammed the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) for their refusal to allow his side to play a World Cup warm-up game in March.

Okada had wanted to give his side a stiff test before next year's World Cup by tackling Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal away in a friendly on March 3.

However, the AFC told Japanese officials they could not switch an Asian Cup qualifier with Bahrain scheduled for the same day, triggering an angry response from Okada.

"It's a World Cup year," the Japan coach told Wednesday's Japanese media.

"If the AFC wants Asian teams to do well at the World Cup then they shouldn't schedule Asian Cup qualifying games on a FIFA international match day."

The Japan Football Association (JFA) announced they were planning to schedule 11 games before next year's World Cup in South Africa, including Asian Cup qualifiers.

The "Blue Samurai" also play China, Hong Kong and fellow World Cup qualifiers South Korea at home in February's East Asian championships.

Japan's opponents for friendlies on February 2, April 7 and May 24 have yet to be confirmed while JFA officials are eager to add three more dates before the World Cup.

Japan, who will be bidding to win their first World Cup finals match on foreign soil in South Africa, have been drawn with Netherlands, Cameroon and Denmark in Group E.