TOKYO - Japan will train under a blanket of security from Saturday ahead of next week's World Cup qualifier in Yokohama against Australia for fear of spies leaking their tactics. Only people personally given the all-clear by Japan coach Takeshi Okada will be allowed in to watch Japan practice. Okada's secrecy stems in part from the fact that Australia coach Pim Verbeek has had spells managing J-League clubs and has numerous contacts in Japan. "Nobody will be allowed in unless I give them permission," Okada told Saturday's Japanese media. "Pim has friends in Japan and someone might get in who we don't want to be there." Okada has also restricted media access to his players before Wednesday's game, which Japan can ill afford to lose to the group-leading Australians. "We are having to do things we don't normally do," said Okada. "It helps the players. I want the team to be absolutely focused. "You can talk to me all you want -- I won't make any slip of the tongue." The teams have become fierce rivals since Australia beat Japan 3-1 at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Japan gained revenge by knocking Australia out of the Asian Cup the following year. Australia lead the group with a perfect nine points from three games, two ahead of second-placed Japan. The top two from each of the two five-team groups will qualify from Asia for the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa.
7 February 2009
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