Soccer-Japan must find attacking flair against Greece says coach


By Michael Kahn

NATAL, June 18 (Reuters) - Japan must deploy the attacking game that made them the first nation to qualify for the World Cup and be ready to counter on the break against a physical Greece side, coach Alberto Zaccheroni said on Wednesday.

A 2-1 loss to Ivory Coast in their Group C opener showed the Asian champions need to make the most of their chances on Thursday against a Greek defence that can soak up pressure, the Italian said.

Former European champions Greece conceded four goals in 10 qualifying matches to get to Brazil but almost as many in their first match of the tournament - a 3-0 defeat by Colombia in Belo Horizonte.

"The Greeks have built their success on the compact and solid nature of that team," Zaccheroni said. "It is a team that can withstand attacks and we need to exploit the opportunities that arise."

Both sides know anything less than a victory at the Dunas arena will put their World Cup adventure in jeopardy.

Against the Ivory Coast, Japan abandoned the fast, intricate passing game that gave them the lead through Keisuke Honda after 16 minutes and instead sat back in defence as the powerful Ivorians bullied them out of the contest.

"As we have seen so far in these matches there is great balance," Zaccheroni said. "The slightest error can make you lose a match. The team has now understood what it should and shouldn't have done in the last match."

During his four years in charge, the Italian coach has transformed the Blue Samurai into a high-tempo attacking unit capable of cutting open the toughest defences.

Zaccheroni said his main job since the opening defeat has been urging his players to rediscover that attacking verve.

"We know a lot depends on tomorrow's match," Zaccheroni said. "I'm trying to tell my players they shouldn't be too worried and only concentrate on playing as they have done in the past four years.

"If this team plays as it has done in the past it can achieve excellent results." (Reporting by Michael Kahn, Editing by Ken Ferris)

What to Read Next