Okazaki: I score goals to put food on table

Japan striker Shinji Okazaki promised to lift the gloom following a string of poor displays by his side in Tuesday's home World Cup qualifier against Tajikistan.

The pint-sized VfB Stuttgart player said he had recovered from a knee problem and would be back amongst the goals as the Blue Samurai look to take a firm grip on Group C.

"I score goals for a living," Okazaki, who has scored seven goals in five matches under coach Alberto Zaccheroni, told Monday's Japanese media.

"I'm starving for goals but it's all about the team. I'm just a forward. Scoring goals is my job."

Japan disappointed in last Friday's 1-0 friendly win over Vietnam, but Zaccheroni dismissed talk of a crisis in front of goal.

"Yes we have only scored three goals in our last three matches," the Italian told a news conference on the eve of the clash with Tajikistan in Osaka.

"But we're ready. We made a lot of chances against North Korea and we had our chances against Uzbekistan too. It's not as if we have not been scoring in my 15 games as coach."

Unbeaten since Zaccheroni took charge last October, Japan have made life difficult for themselves in their opening two games in the third round of Asian 2014 qualifiers.

A stoppage-time win over North Korea at home was followed last month by a desperately poor performance in a 1-1 draw with Uzbekistan in Tashkent.

Japan's Inter Milan defender Yuto Nagatomo warned that Tajikistan could prove dangerous opponents.

"They are hanging on for dear life in the group so we have to be wary," he said. "We need an early goal so they come at us and we get more space to play."

In his eagerness not to trigger a backlash from the Japanese, Tajikistan coach Alimzhon Rafikov almost wrote off his team's chances of producing an upset.

"We are not kidding ourselves about how difficult it will be," he said. "We might only have a 1,000-1 chance of winning but we want to give a good account of ourselves."

Japan and Uzbekistan both have four points in Group C with North Korea on three. Tajikistan have lost both their matches.