Japan coach bemoans lack of speed
Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni bemoaned his team's lack of speed after failing to break down 10-man Greece in a goalless draw on Thursday.
Greece were short-handed in the 38th minute when Kostas Katsouranis received his second yellow card, but Japan were unable to beat their opponents down the sideline.
"This is a match that we would have absolutely tried to win. We were training to win," Zaccheroni said. "We wanted to create a lot of movement between the lines. We thought we should be very aggressive along both of Greece's flanks. We took the initiative to do that, but we lack speed and flair.
"We were able to be dangerous in the first half, but lacked the final sprint. In the second half, we should have circulated the ball more quickly.
"There wasn't much movement or depth of the ball because Greece was holding on to protect their goal. It was extremely tight."
Zaccheroni dropped Manchester United's Shinji Kagawa from the starting lineup in a surprise move, putting veteran striker Yoshito Okubo up front with star Keisuke Honda.
"The choice was not a technical, but a tactical choice. We wanted to exhaust Greece on the flanks," Zaccheroni said. "We could have created conditions in order to broaden the space of Greece's defence. He tries to move centrally when he plays."
Japan now have just one point from two games and must beat group leaders Colombia if they hope to advance. Even if they accomplish that feat, Japan must hope Ivory Coast drop points.
"We couldn't settle for a draw. This is not a positive result," Zaccheroni said. "Although we have one more match to play, based on our performance over the past two games, I am not happy at all."
Despite their lacklustre play in Brazil, the manager expressed no regrets about how he prepared his team.
"In the past four years, the team achieved excellent results," he said. "It's been successful and I didn't feel it was appropriate to make any changes at the last minute, but it's important to prepare for things beforehand.
"If I were to go back, I think I would do the same things. Japan should be able to play at an international level by imposing their style of play. In the last two matches, we were not able to play fast, the way we want and what got us to the World Cup."