Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni is eager for his players to make an impression against France in Paris on Friday.
Zaccheroni has named a full-strength squad, including Manchester United striker Shinji Kagawa, for the friendly at Stade de France against Didier Deschamps’ side.
Japan have never beaten France – a record Zaccheroni says must change if the four-time Asian champions are to continue to build and make a strong showing at the 2014 World cup in Brazil.
“By playing against strong teams that lead Europe and South America, I hope we can gain valuable experience of international-level battles that will help us grow further,” Zaccheroni said.
“There are more players I wanted to call up who are not in the squad. That I have so many options shows how high the quality of Japanese football is now.”
Japan, aiming to qualify for a fifth straight FIFA World Cup since their debut at France 1998, are leading Asia’s Group B with 10 points with three wins and one draw. They will play their next qualifier away to Oman on November 14.
And Zaccheroni believes facing France will prove an important part of their preparation for the remainder of the World Cup qualification campaign, especially as Les Bleus appear to have recovered quickly from the dismal end to the Raymond Domenech era at the 2010 World Cup.
“I got the impression that France are a team well balanced between technical and physical aspects,” Zaccheroni said.
“They have made a wonderful start under the stewardship of (Didier) Deschamps.
“Together with Paris Saint-Germain’s strong showing, French football itself appears to be regaining an important position in Europe.”
Deschamps has been forced to bring uncapped PSG midfielder Clement Chantome into his squad for the injured Lassana Diarra as he prepares his side to play Japan and then reigning World and European champions Spain in their World Cup qualifier on October 16.
Diarra injured his back in Anzhi Makhachkala’s 2-0 win at Dynamo Moscow in the Russian Premier League on Sunday and was unable to finish the match.
Deschamps will be hopeful his players get through injury free for a clash with Spain at the Vicente Calderon that may be decisive in UEFA World Cup qualifying Group I.