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Yoshida wants Japan to fight Asian Cup pressure

AFP  |  Abu Dhabi 

has called on his side to cope with pressure to perform at the Asian Cup as they look to make up for their four years ago.

The defender admitted on Tuesday that several of the team were still smarting from their shock penalty shootout loss to in the quarter-finals last time out in

"That was a huge disappointment but this is a new team with a new manager," told reporters before the Blue Samurai's opening Group F game against in

"After last year expectation is really high," he added, pointing to Japan's surprise run to the last 16 in Russia, where only a remarkable comeback by from two goals down prevented them reaching the quarter-finals.

"But unlike the expectation on is different at an Asian Cup, where we are expected to win. That brings its own pressure obviously and we need to be able to cope with that and not freeze up."

Japan captured the last of their record four Asian Cups in 2011, but has brought a new-look team to this year's tournament, leaving out the likes of playmaker and Leicester striker Shinji Okazaki.

Unbeaten in five matches under Moriyasu, the Japanese will rely instead on the lightning-quick attacking trio of Takumi Minamino, Shoya Nakajima and Ritsu Doan.

"We've brought in some fresh blood since but we have a nice mix of youth and experience," insisted Moriyasu.

"It's a chance for the young players to forge their own paths as Japan internationals."


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Japan will expect to easily advance from a group also including and Oman, but the Asian Cup has already thrown up its share of upsets, with holders stunned 1-0 by in their opening game.

"got beaten, lost to and struggled to win their first game so the first game is hugely important for us," said

"The first order of business will be to make sure we get out of our group. We have to grow into the tournament step by step.

"The new players have a responsibility to build on what previous Japan teams have done and fight with pride to add a new chapter in our history. It's a big tournament for us."

South Korea, who will be boosted by the arrival of Tottenham forward after their second game, and -- 5-0 winners over on Monday -- are the favourites to lift Asian football's most coveted trophy.

And Moriyasu is under no illusions as to the size of the task in the Emirates.

"There won't be any easy games out here," he smiled. "We know every opponent will be tough and deserve our utmost respect. We need to be firing at 100 percent if we want to progress.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, January 08 2019. 20:35 IST
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