Vahid Halilhodzic has demanded a reaction from Japan against South Korea, having seen his side succumb to an opening-day defeat in the East Asian Cup.
Halilhodzic watched his domestic-based team throw away a one-goal lead to lose 2-1 against North Korea on Sunday as Japan’s lack of star quality was exposed by a tidy, well-drilled outfit in Wuhan.
With the competition falling outside the official FIFA calendar, Europe-based talent such as Shinji Kagawa, Keisuke Honda and Shinji Okazaki are all absent from the competition.
While Yuki Muto took advantage of his opportunity to register the opener at the weekend, following a goalless draw against Singapore in World Cup qualification in June, Halilhodzic is facing his first real test as Japan boss.
The former Algeria boss told his squad in no uncertain terms what he expects ahead of a repeat of the 2013 final, which was won by South Korea.
“It can’t go on like this. You have to show pride,” he told the Kyodo news agency.
“[Otherwise] we will end up going home without winning a game.
“We have to change the quality of training. Our condition is not good and physically we are not strong.”
South Korea sit atop the table on goal difference with three points, alongside near-neighbours North Korea, after beating China 2-0 on Sunday.
Kim Dae-seung and Lee Jong-ho were on target for Uli Stielike’s men, who have not tasted defeat since losing to Australia in the Asian Cup final in January.
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