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Japan boss says nothing to fear from tough World Cup draw


Tokyo (AFP) – Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu says his team have nothing to fear and are aiming for at least the quarter-finals after being drawn in a tough World Cup group containing former champions Spain and Germany.

Friday’s draw for the World Cup in Qatar later this year threw Japan into Group E along with heavyweights Spain and Germany, plus the winner of a play-off between Costa Rica and New Zealand.

With the top two from each group reaching the knockout rounds, Japan could hardly have a harder task and some are already calling theirs the “Group of Death”.

“To be drawn against teams that have experience of winning the World Cup is meaningful for us because we’re aiming to take on the best in the world,” said the Japan boss, according to public broadcaster NHK. 

“We’ll start analysing our opponents, but we won’t be looking at them as being better than us. We want to bring out our own strengths.”

Japan reached the last 16 in Russia four years ago and gave Belgium a huge scare before going down 3-2, but they have never gone as far as the last eight of the World Cup.

Moriyasu is hoping that his team, who are 23rd in the FIFA rankings and at their seventh straight World Cup, can make a slice of history when the action gets under way in Qatar in November.

“Our aim is to get to the quarter-finals, but we’ll take each game as it comes, analysing our opponents and making use of our own strengths,” he said.

“I want us to have the best preparation and give it everything we’ve got.”

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