Okada praises Japan spirit

09:08, June 25, 2010      

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Japan's palyers celebrate their victory as Denmark's Daniel Agger (1st L) passes by at the end of the Group E last round match at 2010 FIFA World Cup, at Royal Bafokeng stadium in Rustenburg, South Africa, on June 24, 2010. Japan won 3-1 and qualifies for the next round. (Xinhua/Xu Suhui)

Japan coach Takeshi Okada warned there was more to come from his "united" team as they progressed to the World Cup second round with an impressive victory over Denmark in Rustenburg.

The Blue Samurai had never won a match at a finals on foreign soil prior to the tournament, but made it two victories from three in 2010 thanks to outstanding first-half free-kicks from Keisuke Honda and Yasuhito Endo that helped set up a 3-1 win.

Needing only a draw to qualify from Group E, they led from the 17th minute at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium and never looked in danger of losing.

Even when Jon Dahl Tomasson pulled a goal back nine minutes from time, Shinji Okazaki struck to restore their two-goal lead.

And Okada, who predicted before the tournament that Japan would make it to the semifinals, insisted that his side still have more to give in South Africa.

"We haven't achieved our final goal yet," Okada said. "We still have to go forward, starting with the game against Paraguay. Tonight we will enjoy this, but then we must step up and renew our efforts towards our subsequent challenges."

"Today our players were very courageous and were not cowardly at all. They were also really level-headed and calm under pressure, so I am grateful for this.

"Our team has a strength that other teams do not have, which is the 23 players and the entire staff are truly united and as a single team we wanted to demonstrate that football is a team sport. We started playing with this spirit today and we showed what we can do."

Denmark boss Morten Olsen felt poor finishing from his side was what had prevented them from going on to win the game and seal a second-round spot.

Olsen did not mention any names, but pointed to the first big chance of the game that saw Tomasson push his shot from the left just wide of the post as a crucial moment.

It was one of at least five chances for the Feyenoord frontman and his coach said: "We lost, so of course we are disappointed, especially when you have the ambition to progress to the next round.

"It was a terrible situation for us. We started off well actually, our positioning game was okay, and we were pretty much in control of the situation. But then around 12 minutes into the game we had the first real big chance.

"You don't score from every chance but that really makes a difference at this level. They scored from their chances, but we didn't do the same from ours, so it became an uphill struggle for sure."


Special Report: World Cup 2010


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