Vahid Halilhodzic declared Japan’s have a duty to entertain fans ahead of their 2018 FIFA World Cup/2019 AFC Asian Cup joint qualifier against Afghanistan.
The Samurai Blue are on course to qualifying for the world championships in Russia, but the coach has warned that they cannot afford to get complacent against their upcoming opponents.
“As I’ve said before, our objective is to win [against Afghanistan and Syria], not allow any goals, and score as many goals of our own as possible,” he told reporters on Wednesday. “We’ve had a lot of discussions about this in training.
“We’ve studied our opponent but we also have to go into this match with enthusiasm. We can’t forget what happened [in the 0-0 draw] against Singapore. A lot of fans are coming and it’s the responsibility of the players to make sure they go home satisfied.
“We need to stay focused and not get flustered against Afghanistan. They’ve changed their manager and performed very well at the SAFF Championship. “
“Just because I’ve called up [newcomers such as Yu Kobayashi and Gen Shoji] doesn’t mean they’ll play immediately.
“You can’t simply earn a spot in the team if you’re not qualified. I have to get to know their character and personality.
“As I’ve said before, [J.League players] need to work harder to get into the national team. But nobody is guaranteed a call-up just for playing overseas.
“I want to install a sense of competition in my players, and I want them to show how much they want their spot.”