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Jun 16, 2006

Troussier: Japan need more individualism

TOKYO, June 16 (Reuters) - Japanese players need to go overseas and become more individualistic, a vital characteristic lacking in the team that suffered a shocking defeat to Australia in their World Cup opener, their former coach said on Friday.

Frenchman Philippe Troussier, who led Japan to the final 16 at the last tournament they co-hosted with South Korea, said the nature of the country's society made it difficult to nurture individualism.

'You could say the way the Japanese society is organised means that it's not easy for leaders to come up. There is decision-sharing, that is against individuality that is needed in a soccer player,' he told a news conference.

'The capacity to go ahead with the ball and dribble past five players and put the ball in the net - of course, we don't have Japanese players with this capacity.'

Japan failed to hold on to their early lead and were defeated by Australia 3-1 on Monday, putting the Asian champions on the verge of an early exit.

'What is to be done in my opinion is to go to foreign countries and play foreign teams to experience the difference and to give Japanese players the capacity to become more individualistic in their decision making,' Troussier said.

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The Frenchman praised the way Japan played against Australia, blaming the late collapse not to the tactics of his successor Zico, but to the lack of psychological strength among the players.

'He must keep on trusting the system, it's been proven,' Troussier said, when asked what Zico should do ahead of Japan's next match against Croatia on Sunday.

But he said Zico's coaching style of giving players plenty of freedom may not be suited to Japan.

'In case of teams that lack experience, that would be the case of the Japanese team ... these players need to be shown what to do, how to do it, which way to go,' said Troussier.

'This also happens to be the way Japanese society is organised ... with these players, a lot of freedom might actually be detrimental.'

Troussier was known for trying to impose his tactics on the players during his time with the Japanese team and often had run-ins with them.