Japan appeared to have taken their 4-0 drubbing by Brazil positively, with playmaker Keisuke Honda claiming he “enjoyed” the match.
Just four days after covering themselves in glory in a historic 1-0 victory over France in Paris, the Blue Samurai crashed down to earth in another friendly on Tuesday in neutral Wroclaw, Poland, as their lack of finishing power showed.
“A Complete Defeat,” Japanese newspaper headlines blared in chorus yesterday.
“After all, Japan proved themselves to be at no higher than Asian level,” the evening tabloid Yukan Fuji chided the four-time Asian champions.
“I’m disappointed indeed. I wasn’t expecting us to lose by such a big margin,” CSKA Moscow midfielder Honda told Japanese media after the match against the five-time World Cup winners, but the 26-year-old, who scored two goals to help Japan reach the round-of-16 at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, insisted the losing match was inspiring as well.
“I usually play in Russia and I must say I haven’t enjoyed myself like this for a long time,” Honda said. “It won’t be interesting any longer if we beat them easily.”
Honda and Manchester United’s summer signing Shinji Kagawa, spearheading Japan’s frontline, attempted a few shots, but the Blue Samurai were outshot by Brazil 15-9.
Santos superstar Neymar bagged a brace, with Paulinho and Kaka scoring one apiece.
“I felt that the biggest difference was the accuracy in front of goal, but I think there wasn’t as big a difference between the two teams as the score shows. This is not sour grapes or anything,” said Honda, whose wish to move to another club has been reportedly hampered by steep transfer fees demanded by CSKA.
“We were able to set attacking patterns. We want to increase these patterns. Brazil scored on chances, but we didn’t. This makes a big difference,” Kagawa said.
Japan’s first-ever win over France came from a single goal by Kagawa at the Stade de France.
“I wanted to see if we could take them on without fear and assess what we could do, and we could not do [it] against them,” said Alberto Zaccheroni, who piloted Japan to a shock 1-0 win over Argentina at home in his debut match after becoming their coach following the 2010 World Cup.
“I am satisfied with the way we approached the match,” said the Italian, who has coached AC Milan and several other Serie A sides. “We will arrange matches with the world’s top teams again to raise ourselves and become able to challenge them as equals.”
Japan’s winless streak against Brazil at international level has now stretched to nine matches, two of them tied.
Brazil also blanked China and Iraq 8-0 and 6-0 in friendlies, before taking on the Asian champions.
“I would say Japan are the strongest out of those teams. They had a lot of time on the ball,” Brazil coach Mano Menezes told Kyodo news agency.