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The Toe Poke

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By ESPN Staff

Japan 'will fear no-one,' says Nakata

LEVERKUSEN, Germany, May 31 (Reuters) - Japan's Hidetoshi Nakata believes the Asian champions need fear no one after holding World Cup hosts Germany 2-2 in a warm-up game on Tuesday.

But the Bolton midfielder also warned against the kind of defensive lapses that allowed Germany to score twice in the last 14 minutes and earn the draw.

"We made a lot of clear chances in front of goal and passed the ball well," Nakata told reporters. "If we do that we can give the best teams in the world a game."

Two set-piece goals from Miroslav Klose and Bastian Schweinsteiger prevented Japan from claiming a morale-boosting victory in Leverkusen.

"It was disappointing only to draw," said Nakata, whose clever dummy led to the first of striker Naohiro Takahara's two second-half goals.

"It was silly to give away fouls in dangerous areas like we did and our defending of set pieces needs to improve. But we can be happy with the way we played overall."

Japan coach Zico praised his side's efforts less than two weeks before their opening World Cup game against Australia on June 12.

"They showed great character and looked hungry," said the Brazilian. "I'm very pleased. We created enough chances to have scored more goals. I hope that continues against Australia."

Japan also face Croatia and holders Brazil in Group F.

The German-based Takahara lifted spirits inside the Japan camp with two clinically taken goals.

"It didn't matter that it was against Germany," said the Hamburg striker, who missed the 2002 World Cup after coming down with a form of deep vein thrombosis.

"It was an important test for us and it was good to score -- both for my confidence and the team's."

Japan face Malta in their final warm-up game before their clash with Australia in Kaiserslautern.