Shunsuke Nakamura hoping for starting role


Shunsuke celebrates

Former Celtic midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura is hoping to play his part in helping Japan through to the last 16 of the World Cup.

A draw against Denmark in Rustenburg tomorrow will be enough to take Japan into the knock-out stage of the competition with Holland assured of top spot from Group E.

Nakamura made an appearance as a 64th substitute in the 1-0 defeat from Holland on Saturday and is hoping to have played his way into the starting XI against Denmark.

Looking back at the Dutch defeat the midfielder said: “It was difficult, we were behind 1-0 and wanted to level the scores. If we could have made it 1-1, it would have been perfect.

“But we were playing against high-level opponents and didn’t want to go 2-0 or 3-0 down, which would have put us in a worse situation, so I couldn’t only think about attacking.

“Those on the bench all have certain characteristics that the team can call upon to add something to the team’s performance. If we can use these elements, it will help us.”

Coach Takeshi Okada will be torn between going for a win to ensure qualification for the next phase and avoiding defeat which would also guaretee  progress.

Anything other than going all out for a win would be a dangerous strategy with Slovenia ‘doing a Scotland’ by getting knocked out after the final whistle had blown in the match with England.

With the USA drawing with Algeria Slovenia were through but Landon Donovan’s goal brought joy to the US and despair to Slovenia after losing out to England over 90 minutes.

Denmark have looked seriously under strength so far but will be very single minded knowing that a win over Japan will ensure their qualification.

Elsewhere in Japan Koki Mizuno is expected to sign a loan deal with J-League 2 side Kashiwa Reysol until the end of January.

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