BLOEMFONTEIN, June 15 – Japan coach Takeshi Okada refused to get carried away by his team's historic World Cup win over Cameroon, saying he had his sights firmly set on the next match.The Blue Samurai’s 1-0 win in Bloemfontein was their first World Cup victory on foreign soil and puts them in a strong position in Group E behind early pacesetters and strong favourites the Netherlands.
But despite the jubilation among the travelling Japan fans, Okada said the moment the final whistle sounded he was focused on Saturday’s clash against the Netherlands in Durban.
"The final whistle of today’s game is the kick-off for the next game. That’s how we feel," said Okada, who has come under fire for predicting his misfiring Japan side would reach the semi-finals.
"In the next game we will be up against the Netherlands so we will have to go one step further and this is the first win on foreign soil in the World Cup for our team but this is not an achievement at all. What’s coming next is the point," he added.
The bespectacled coach, in his second stint in charge of the Japanese national side, said Japan had expected a Cameroon side that was strong technically and physically and that is what the African side delivered.
Okada said Japan’s performance, after a string of poor results in which they scored just once in four international friendlies, was a result of good preparation and motivation.
But the 53-year-old, who piloted Japan to a winless World Cup debut at France 1998 in his first spell as coach, added: "We need to be more aggressive in terms of attack."
Keisuke Honda netted the winner in the 39th minute of a first half at the Free State stadium in which both teams struggled to create clear goalscoring chances.
Man of the match Honda praised his defence for keeping Cameroon’s attackers, including Inter Milan star Samuel Eto’o, at bay and said the team’s strength was its ability to play as a unit.
"Our strength is in our collective force," said the CSKA Moscow player, who turned 24 on Sunday.
"We believe in our strength and we absolutely defended our goal and that I think was determining."
Japan’s inability to score in the run-up to South Africa had raised concerns over where the goals would come from.
The Blue Samurai are playing in their fourth World Cup. Their previous two wins in football’s showpiece came on home soil in 2002.