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The coach has claimed that the team's participation in this summer's Games will help the senior side in their efforts to reach the tournament in Brazil in two years' time

Japan Under-23 coach Takashi Sekizuka believes that his team's participation at this summer's Olympic Games is an important first step in their plan to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Sekizuka's side kick-off their Olympic campaign against Spain at Hampden Park on Thursday and the coach insisted that although their sights were set on the World Cup, they would approach the tournament in Great Britain with "real pride".

"The time has come to show what we have been working for in the two years we have been preparing for this," Sekizuka told reporters.

He continued: "The Olympics are a high priority for the Japanese federation in the build-up to the World Cup in two years' time.

"This is the first step for making an impact at the World Cup but we will playing with a real pride to get good Olympic results."

Spain are among the favourites to win gold under Luis Milla and Sekizuka recognised the importance of the opening group match.

"Spain are a very strong side but we will keep going for the 90 minutes and try to make the most out of it," the former Kawasaki Frontale boss said.

"I have spoken to the players about how important the first game is and everyone is aware of that, we are looking forward to the Spain game and that game will have an impact on the group."