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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May 24, 2006

Zico in bullish mood over Japan's chances

TOKYO, May 24 (Reuters) - Japan coach Zico said his players were in perfect shape for the World Cup after the Asian champions wrapped up their final home training camp on Wednesday.

Japan leave for the World Cup on Friday and play tournament hosts Germany and Malta before their opening Group F game against Australia in Kaiserslautern on June 12.

'We're delighted that everything has gone to plan and the players are in the best possible shape,' Zico told reporters at the end of the week-long camp in Fukushima, north of Tokyo.

'We have put in a lot of very hard work and that will pay dividends when we are in Germany.'

Japan, who are also drawn with Croatia and holders Brazil, head to Germany with no major injury worries after hammering 22 goals past a local high school team in a final practice game.

Striker Atsushi Yanagisawa appears to have fully recovered from a broken metatarsal and should start alongside German-based Naohiro Takahara in attack against Australia.

Zico looks set to adopt a 3-5-2 system against a physical Australia side coach by Dutchman Guus Hiddink, who guided South Korea to the 2002 World Cup semi-finals.

'That's the idea for Australia but we may have to change things in the case of injuries or any other unforeseen problems,' the Brazilian said. 'We're prepared for any scenario.'

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