Alberto Zaccheroni admits Japan have a tough road ahead in World Cup qualifiers

The Asian champions have been placed in a tricky group for the third round of Asian Football Confederation qualifiers for Brazil 2014, alongside Uzbekistan, North Korea and Syria

Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni admits the Samurai Blue have drawn a tough third round World Cup qualifying group against 2011 Asian Cup semi-finalists Uzbekistan and 2010 World Cup finalists North Korea.

The Asian champions are the favourites to progress from Group C, but Zaccheroni acknowledged there wouldn't be an easy route through against Uzbekistan, North Korea and Syria.


"Our group may seem a difficult group but they are opponents whom we must play sooner or later on our way to the World Cup finals. So we will just go for it," the Italian told the-afc.com.

"We are the Asian champions, so our opponents will be doing their homework and come at us firing on all cylinders but we will just focus on each and every match."

Japan will begin their World Cup qualifying campaign on September 2 at home to North Korea, who boast former Kawasaki Frontale striker Jong Tae-Se.

The Samurai Blue then face a tricky away trip only four days later in Tashkent against Uzbekistan.

Japan Football Association technical director Hiromi Hara admitted: "Our first two games will be important.”

Hara added he had a concern about the away trip to restive Syria.

"We want to consult the foreign ministry about our match away in Syria where the political situation is uncertain," Hara said.

The Samurai Blue's number one goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima said the team's preparation would be of the utmost importance in this group, where the top two nations go through the fourth and final round of Asian Football Confederation qualifiers.

"There are no easy groups. Whoever you play in Asia it is always a tough battle," Kawashima told Kyodo News.

"The most important thing is that we all prepare well."