Okada aiming to make history
Blue Samurai optimistic of making last eight
Last Updated: 28/06/10 6:27pm
Okada: Aiming to make history
Japan coach Takeshi Okada is confident his side can overcome Paraguay to reach their first ever World Cup quarter-final.
The Japanese have qualified for the knockout stages for only the second time in their history after beating Cameroon and Denmark to finish second to Holland in Group E.
The Blue Samurai take on Paraguay at Loftus Versfeld on Tuesday and Okada believes his side can make history, even though he knows it will not be easy against their impressive opponents.
"It will be a challenge for us as we try to get into the last eight for the first time, so we will be doing our absolute utmost to address this challenge," said Okada.
"Paraguay are solid in defence and quick in attack and it's clear they are a good team because they finished first in their group, but if we can deliver 100% of what we can do then I'm certain that we will be able to win.
"So tomorrow I hope that physically and mentally we can give everything."
ImpressedOkada has been impressed by Paraguay after they topped Group F by going unbeaten in their three games
"In their group they were first amongst very good teams. All of them were very good and strong in their group, and they finished first," added Okada.
"Many of their players play in European leagues and they're all good players, and up front particularly they are very quick.
"Perhaps Paraguay aren't one of the most fancied teams but they are strong and good at going from defence to attack quickly, which is something we have to be careful about."
Asked what it would mean back home in Japan if they were to make it through to the last eight, Okada said it would be great news but insists it needs to be viewed as just another step in the right direction rather than the ultimate fulfilment of a goal.
"I would say for the football community it will be wonderful and encouraging news. What the Japanese football community is aiming at, which is to become one of the top teams, will be one step closer if we qualify for the final eight," he said.
"But I have to say if you only pile bricks vertically they will eventually fall down, so we have to support from both sides.
"I personally don't want to base everything on just one result or just one competition. We need to have a longer-term vision, to estimate and evaluate the level of Japanese football.
"We need to be aware of the journey and path which is still ongoing."