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Hasebe: Japan will not take Euro rejects lightly

Makoto Hasebe insists Japan are fully focused ahead of their clash with Bulgaria on Friday, which marks the revival of the Kirin Cup tournament.

Previously a round-robin event that pitted Japan against two other nations, the competition is back after a five-year break with a four-team knockout format.

Bosnia-Herzegovina face Denmark in the other semi-final, with both matches to be played at Toyota Stadium on Friday, and Hasebe says Japan must be at their best despite their opponents’ shortcomings on their own continent.

“The season in Europe is over, but this national team activity will be my seasonal swansong,” said the Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder. “I’m certainly here to get some wins in Kirin Cup Soccer.

“It’s been a while since I played for the national team against European teams. Although the three countries we’ll meet this time failed to qualify for Euro 2016, they are very strong, so I’d like to win home games against them properly, while performing well.

“Since there are a few new young players in the team, I personally expect that there will be a more competitive atmosphere among the national team players.

“I’d like to perform well to get good results in preparation for the qualifiers of the World Cup.”

The final and third-place play-off will be staged in Osaka on Tuesday.

Wed 1 Jun, 2016
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