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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Sasaki says Brazil poses threat without Marta


KOBE — Japan coach Norio Sasaki has warned the women's world champions to take nothing for granted when they face an understrength Brazil in the final game of the three-nation Kirin Challenge Cup exhibition tournament on Thursday.

Brazil arrived in Japan without five-time Women's World Player of the Year Marta and defender Fabiana Simoes, and the South Americans were comprehensively beaten 3-0 by the United States in Chiba on Tuesday.

Miraildes Mota status is in doubt for Thursday's game at Home's Stadium in Kobe after picking up an injury against the United States, who played out a 1-1 draw with Japan in the opening game of the tournament on Sunday.

Brazil coach Jorge Barcellos said after arriving in Japan he had left Marta out of the squad because she was tired due to her recent move to Swedish club Tyreso.

"Obviously Marta is a very special player indeed and to be honest, I would have preferred to play a Brazil team with her in it," admitted Sasaki.

"But their three attacking players are not too far behind (Marta) when it comes to power and technique. It can't be helped (that Marta is not here) but it's a shame because Brazil are a different team when she plays," he said.

Sasaki noted that Brazil conceded two goals from set pieces against the Americans but still felt they posed plenty of danger in attack.

"Brazil were undone by a couple of set pieces against the U.S. but they are very quick getting the ball forward," said Sasaki. "The crosses they were getting in were also of the highest quality so we have to be on our toes when they come at us."

"They were as good as I expected them to be although they have a different style to the Americans," he added.

Striker Megumi Takase, who scored the winner in Japan's 1-0 defeat of the United States at the Algarve Cup in Portugal last month, said she was relishing playing for Japan at the home of her club side INAC Kobe Leonessa.

"Hopefully I won't let the sense of occasion get to me and I can relax," said Takase. "There is pressure to score goals for sure but I can't allow myself to be thinking about that and the main thing is to enjoy it."

Barcellos was under no illusions of the task facing his side.

"The Japan national team I think is the strongest in the world. The players have great speed and technique and are very dangerous so if we want to take a good result home we will have to play with great care," he said.

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