Zaccheroni, Japan playing to win

The Blue Samurai and their Italian tactician are planning to lift the East Asian Cup this month, despite bringing a squad of rookies to the tournament in South Korea

Japan head coach Alberto Zaccheroni says his young team will be playing to win when the East Asian Cup begins in Seoul this weekend.

The Italian has named a relatively inexperienced squad for the EAFF event, which pits Japan against Australia, China and hosts South Korea.

Defender Yuichi Komano - set to captain the team - is by far the most experienced member of the squad with 75 caps, as 14 players yet to make their senior international debut have been picked in the 23-man roster.

But despite their lack of playing time together, Zaccheroni expects his troops to be aiming for maximum points when they tackle China at the Seoul World Cup stadium on Sunday.

"I believe that in football one should always play to get a result," he said.

"It is important to be motivated and to want to win. We are changing a lot for this tournament and we might struggle a bit."

Despite a busy season on World Cup qualifying, Zaccheroni welcomed the opportunity for more playing time, and said he will be relying on his players' tactical discipline to get the job done on the field.

"We national team coaches always complain that we don't play enough games, but this year we also have this tournament, against teams that have already played in the World Cup qualifiers," he said.

"We'll play against three different teams, and I am very intrigued, this is going to be interesting."

"I don't have the option of picking a block of players who all play for the same team. So I will ask my players to follow diligently my instructions. All three departments [defence, midfield, attack] must do their best."

The final game of the tournament is an eagerly anticipated clash between regional rivals Japan and South Korea, with Zaccheroni tipping a tough battle against the home team.

"I have coached against South Korea before, and it is always very tough," he said.

"I have great respect for South Korea and I consider them one of the top teams in Asia. They are strong mentally, physically and tactically."

Chosen to lead the experimental squad, Jubilo Iwata fullback Komano said he was flattered to be named skipper and stated his determination to perform well in the tournament.

"At first when I heard I was to be the captain I was surprised, but I am happy to have this responsibility," he said.

"In truth, nothing much will change for me, I will play my best as always.

"Japan have shown at the Confederations Cup that we can play at a good level, and we came to this tournament to achieve a good result."

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