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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Nakamura's warning

Kyodo News

Shunsuke Nakamura has played down Japan's high-octane performances in the Kirin Cup and warned his teammates to expect a much sterner test when they travel to Uzbekistan for a key World Cup qualifier in Tashkent on Saturday.

Japan boosted its preparations for the remainder of the 2010 qualifying program with a 4-0 thrashing of Belgium in Tokyo on Sunday, just days after it crushed Chile by the same scoreline in Osaka.

Chile, though, was not at full strength and Belgium was also missing several regulars, while Japan had the benefit of extra rest between games in the three-nation tournament.

"You can't really feel like worthy winners unless you are beating strong opponents," said Nakamura, who is nursing a sore groin and was limited to 45 minutes Sunday.

"We had pressure in the first half (against Belgium) and got two goals and two more in the second half. But it won't go as smoothly when we play Uzbekistan."

"The important thing now is to think about how to train with Uzbekistan in mind. I want to move up a gear in our first practice session over there and don't want the kind of atmosphere where players laugh at mistakes," said the 30-year-old Celtic playmaker.

Although generally pleased with the result, coach Takeshi Okada was unhappy at the way Japan took its foot off the pedal after going 2-0 up through Yuto Nagatomo and Kengo Nakamura and read his players the riot act in the dressing room at halftime.

"We gradually started to slow down after 20 minutes in the first half. If the movement drops off like that, then we are not going to be able to play the kind of soccer we are aiming to and achieve our goals," said Okada.

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