Martino faces date with destiny

PRETORIA - Another second-round finish for Paraguay at the World Cup will be a big disappointment for coach Gerardo Martino, who has set his heart on steering them into uncharted territory.

"The second round is a long way from glory, at least what I think of as glory," Martino said on Monday, the eve of the South Americans' clash with Japan in Pretoria.

Martino said before the finals began that "a coach who chooses to take charge of a national team does it for one of two reasons, to stay in the job or go down in history, and I elect the second option."

A fast-improving Japanese side, mobile in attack, stand in the Argentine coach's way.

"They have varied the way they face matches, they're a very quick team...they pass quickly from defence to attack," Martino said.

"They have midfielders who get into scoring positions and a trio of forwards who, by all being different, make it more complicated (to contain them)," Martino told a news conference.

"On the right they have a creative midfielder (Makoto Hasebe), at number nine a midfielder whose position was reinvented as a centre forward who is (Keisuke) Honda and perhaps the true striker of the three plays on the left (Yoshito Okubo).

"Their biggest virtue is the speed and precision with which they take advantage of the spaces their opponents leave them."

Paraguay and Japan are both looking to get past the second round for the first time. The Paraguayans have reached the last 16 stage for the third time in the last four World Cups.

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