NATAL, Brazil, June 18 (Reuters) - Coach Alberto Zaccheroni will laugh in the face of superstition when Japan line up for the team photo before their World Cup Group C clash against Greece on Thursday.
The 61-year-old Italian, who is hoping his Japan team can put their campaign back on track after a 2-1 defeat to Ivory Coast in their opener, said on Wednesday he was a fairly unusual coach in not subscribing to any pre-match rituals.
"Coaches, especially Italians, all have their rituals because they are all superstitious," he told a news conference at the Dunas arena.
"I stand out from the group because I don't have any. I used to 30 years ago but I dropped it. I focus on my team and what they need to do on the pitch.
Zaccheroni, who started his coaching career at Italian amateur club Cesenatico in 1983, admitted that his ritual three decades ago had actually appeared to be effective.
"When my team took a picture together before the match we always lost," he said.
"So I asked them not to do that and we never lost again."
If Zaccheroni was the sort of coach on the lookout for omens, he might find encouragement in the fact that the only previous meeting between the two countries, which Japan won 1-0, took place nine years to the day before Thursday's match. (Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Nigel Hunt)
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- Alberto Zaccheroni