Lee hoping to light up Czech friendly

YOKOHAMA - Japan striker Tadanari Lee promised some fireworks in Tuesday's Kirin Cup winner-takes-all match against Czech Republic if he gets to play his first game for the Blue Samurai since January's Asian Cup.

Lee, whose superb extra-time volley gave Japan a 1-0 victory over Australia in the final in Qatar, is aiming to put one over Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech if selected in Yokohama.

"I'm a more aggressive player this season and hopefully I'll do something to set the place alight like the goal at the Asian Cup," he told reporters on Monday.

"My job is to score goals and that's what strikers are judged on," added the South Korean-born Lee who obtained Japanese citizenship in 2007.

"Last time it was (Australia goalkeeper Mark) Schwarzer. This time I want to stick one past Cech who is also a world-class keeper."

Lee looks set to get his chance with Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni's first-choice striker Ryoichi Maeda struggling with a heel problem.

"I won't know until tomorrow if I'm starting," said Lee whose explosive impact off the bench in the Asian Cup Final was watched by millions across the continent.

Four goals in seven games for Hiroshima this season underline how he has matured since being viewed by many as a raw talent before the Asian Cup.

"I'm ready," said Lee. "I've been playing well in the J-League and I want to take this chance. I want to get on the scoresheet."


Cech singled out Keisuke Honda as the main threat to the Czechs.

"It's tough to pick out one because they have several good players but if I had to name one it would have to be Honda,' said the Chelsea keeper.

"That's not just my opinion but everyone else on the Czech team," he added of the bleach-blond midfielder who shot to fame by helping Japan reach the last 16 of the 2010 World Cup.

Tuesday's game will be winner-takes-all in the three-nation Kirin Cup after Japan and the Czechs were held to 0-0 draws by Peru in the first two matches.

Cech said the visitors had unfinished business after being upset 1-0 by Japan in Prague the last time the teams played in 2004.

"They were preparing for the World Cup qualifiers then," he recalled of a game where he was embarrassed by a wonder strike from Tatsuhiko Kubo.

"But I haven't forgotten that defeat and I hope we can pay them back tomorrow."

Cech sought to play some subtle mind games by noting how Japan struggled to adapt to a new-look system against Peru.

"Japan tried out a 3-4-3 and they clearly looked uncomfortable early on," said Cech ahead of a game for which more than 71,000 tickets have been sold.

"They went to another formation in the end. I'm curious to see what they do."

Zaccheroni said 3-4-3 was an experiment and Japan would revert to 4-2-3-1 when the World Cup qualifiers begin in September.

"We're still getting to grips with the system," said the Italian. "It still needs some getting used to but in the modern game you need to have options and adapt to be successful."