Japan are full of confidence as they prepare to start their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign against Singapore on Tuesday.
Vahid Halilhodzic’s men impressively thrashed Iraq 4-0 in a friendly on Thursday, in an ideal preparation to their meeting with Singapore.
Keisuke Honda, Tomoaki Makino and Shinji Okazaki scored in the opening 33 minutes before Genki Haraguchi added a fourth late on.
Hertha Berlin’s Haraguchi is pleased to be returning to the Saitama Stadium, a familiar sight after his time at Urawa Reds.
“I have really good memories at Saitama Stadium. Playing at the stadium motivates me a lot. I’m glad to come back here in a national team kit,” he said.
“I hope I can continue to stay on the team and come back here like this as well. Once getting onto the pitch, I think I can play with a positive image because it’s easier to play in a familiar setting.
“It was difficult to play at the central position [against Iraq]. I actually scored from the centre. It’s closer to goal and easier to challenge when you face forward.”
Japan have claimed three straight wins since their disappointing Asian Cup, scoring 11 goals and conceding just one in that time.
Singapore are on a three-match winning run of their own, including a 4-0 win over Cambodia to open their Group E campaign.
“I’m really pleased that we have an opportunity to play against Japan. I believe it means a lot to us, rather than just playing a practice match,” Singapore coach Bernd Stange said.
“Japan’s football has kept progressing these past 20 years. The J.League is a very attractive league and there are many players who are based abroad.
“Recently, Japan regularly participates in both the World Cup and the Asian Cup, which means the Japan national team will improve even more in pursuit of good results.”
Japan have an incredible record against Singapore, winning 18 of the 22 meetings between the nations and losing just one.
Hot favourites to claim a win, Japan will aim to start their qualifying campaign with a dominant display.
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