Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Japan desperate to beat Malaysia to keep hopes alive in Olympic qualifer

The Japan Under-23 football team are hell-bent on getting the desired result against Malaysia in their do-or-die Asian Zone Olympic Group C qualifying match at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil, today.

The Japanese will be out to win by a big margin as they are currently second in the group. They have nine points after four matches but are behind leaders Syria on goal difference.

Only the group champions qualify automatically for the London Olympics. The second-placed teams in each group will enter a round-robin playoff with the winners facing African side Senegal for the last spot.

Japan coach Takashi Sekizuka will leave no stone unturned as they want to finish at the top of the group.

The team have been training in Singapore since Friday to acclimatise and have kept their preparation under wraps.

They even skipped the official training session at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Monday and only turned up in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

“The weather in Malaysia is quite hot so we decided to train in Singapore to get used to the weather,” said Sekizuka.

“We had a great preparation there. We need the six points from our two remaining matches.

“We scored only two goals in the first leg last September and we obviously need to score more.”

However, the FA of Malaysia (FAM) do not seem to be interested in the match despite Malaysia’s coach Ong Kim Swee saying national pride is at stake.

Monday’s training session was chaotic. It was supposed to be a closed door session but the Japanese media had a free reign and Malaysia’s media officer was not present to control the situation.

Kim Swee and the coaching staff had to fend off the prying Japanese media as they went through their preparation.

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