Re­venge mis­sion for Ja­pan in Sin­ga­pore

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

SIN­GA­PORE: Ja­pan coach Vahid Hal­i­hodzic said his play­ers will be on a mis­sion for re­venge when they face Sin­ga­pore in a World Cup qual­i­fier to­day.

The Li­ons spoiled Hal­i­hodzic’s first com­pet­i­tive match as the Blue Sa­mu­rai coach five months ago when they re­pelled ev­ery­thing that came their way to earn a sur­prise 0-0 draw at Saitama Sta­dium.

Ja­pan have since found their feet in Group E, reel­ing off three con­sec­u­tive wins in which they have scored 12 goals with­out con­ced­ing. How­ever, Hal­i­hodzic is de­ter­mined to see his side ban­ish the mem­o­ries of their first meet­ing when they face the South­east Asian side at Sin­ga­pore’s Na­tional Sta­dium. “We have a bad mem­ory of the re­sult of our first game against Sin­ga­pore so we want re­venge. Of course, Sin­ga­pore have a team that will be play­ing for their peo­ple but we have de­ter­mi­na­tion and qual­ity to look for the vic­tory,” said the Bos­nian.

“I said to the play­ers that we have to show more de­ter­mi­na­tion be­cause this game is more dif­fi­cult than the first one be­cause our op­po­nents are play­ing at home, but we have the qual­ity to get the win.

“I want us to at­tack and score, but to score a goal is the most dif­fi­cult thing in foot­ball.”

With 11 of Ja­pan’s 23 play­ers ar­riv­ing in Sin­ga­pore af­ter play­ing for clubs in Europe last week­end, travel fatigue and ac­cli­ma­ti­sa­tion to the trop­i­cal con­di­tions could be a fac­tor in se­lec­tion.

“Some play­ers have just ar­rived from Europe and they are still get­ting used to the dif­fer­ences in the tem­per­a­ture and the heat so I don’t know who will start the game yet,” said Hal­i­hodzic, who will be tak­ing his team on to Ph­nom Penh for their next qual­i­fier against Cam­bo­dia on Tues­day. While Ja­pan and Sin­ga­pore are tied on 10 points in the group, two points be­hind lead­ers Syria, Sin­ga­pore coach Bernd Stange is in­sisted that qual­i­fy­ing for Rus­sia 2018 is not a tar­get for his side.

“World Cup qual­i­fi­ca­tion is more of a mat­ter for Ja­pan but we are aim­ing to go all the way to the Asian Cup in the United Arab Emi­rates in 2019,” said the Ger­man.

“We are very proud with what we have achieved so far. Ten points is a good re­sult for us and we now want to go all the way to the United Arab Emi­rates. That is our goal and the play­ers are very con­vinced they can do that.” The re­gion’s 2018 World Cup qual­i­fy­ing process dou­bles as a means of en­try to the 2019 Asian Cup, which is ex­pand­ing to 24 teams for the first time. How­ever, Stange does not in­tend to make things easy for Ja­pan as they seek an­other mem­o­rable re­sult against the four-time Asian Cup win­ners.

“I think that all of us are rather curious to find out whether the 0-0 draw in Ja­pan was an accident or if we can de­liver an­other sur­prise,” he said. —AFP

SIN­GA­PORE: Ja­pan’s foot­ball head coach Vahid Halil­hodzic at­tends a pre-match press con­fer­ence for the 2018 FIFA Group E World Cup qual­i­fier be­tween Sin­ga­pore and Ja­pan, in Sin­ga­pore yes­ter­day. Ja­pan will play against Sin­ga­pore at the na­tional sta­dium to­day. — AFP

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