Hasebe - Competition is good
Makoto Hasebe believes Japan's players must look to make the most of the competition within their squad.
Last Updated: 12/06/10 6:27pm
Makoto Hasebe believes Japan's players must look to make the most of the competition which exists within their squad.
Excitement around the camp is beginning to build as they prepare to get their World Cup campaign up and running against Cameroon on Monday.
There can, however, only be 11 men fortunate enough to be handed starting berths in that crunch clash.
For the rest, they must be prepared to bide their time, work hard on the training ground and attempt to force their way into the fold over the coming weeks.
There are certainly places up for grabs, as recent results have done little to breed confidence ahead of an appearance at a major tournament.
Goals have proved to be a real problem, with Japan finding the target just once in their last five games.
That is likely to mean that they will go with a solitary frontman against Cameroon, with CSKA Moscow's Keisuke Honda tipped to be handed that role.
Such an approach will see Shinji Okazaki drop out of the side, but national skipper Hasebe hopes those that miss out will view their omission as an incentive to double their efforts.
"That is the way competition for places is and I think it is healthy," Hasebe told Kyodo News.
"But Okazaki has been a key player for us and it is not as if he won't get another chance."
Japan head into the World Cup on the back of a five-match winless run, having come unstuck against Serbia, South Korea, England and Ivory Coast and held by Zimbabwe in a hastily-arranged friendly on Thursday.
Hasebe said: "The last few weeks have been very hard. It has certainly not been easy.
"However the important thing is the first game. We have had some good training sessions and the team has a good feeling for this match."
The national skipper has also sought to calm any fears regarding his involvement in the clash with Cameroon, insisting he is fully recovered from a back problem.
The Wolfsburg ace, said: "I feel okay and everything is going well."