Salisbury JournalHonda revving up for Colombia clash (From Salisbury Journal)

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Honda revving up for Colombia clash

Salisbury Journal: Keisuke Honda knows Japan will have to play at their best against Colombia if they are to reach the knockout stages of the World Cup Keisuke Honda knows Japan will have to play at their best against Colombia if they are to reach the knockout stages of the World Cup

Japan forward Keisuke Honda insists the Blue Samurai will go all out for victory over Colombia as they seek to progress from World Cup Group C.

Alberto Zaccheroni's side were frustrated by 10-man Greece in Natal on Thursday night and could only take a single point from a goalless draw.

Japan need to beat group leaders Colombia - already qualified for the last 16 - in Cuiaba next Tuesday while hoping that Ivory Coast do not defeat Greece in Fortaleza to clinch second spot at their expense.

Colombia may well consider treating their game against the Asian nation more lightly with the next stage in mind, but Honda stressed Japan will approach the showdown with the utmost gravity.

The AC Milan playmaker told FIFA.com: " Even though Colombia have already qualified, for us the game will be like a final and we'll be playing for our lives.

"I think that today (Thursday) we made plenty of chances, enough to have scored a goal and taken all three points, which would have left us in a better situation.

"But unfortunately we fell a touch short with our finishing. We now need to iron out those flaws in our next game and pick up what would be a very important win."

Despite dominating the match after Greece captain Konstantinos Katsouranis was dismissed on 38 minutes, Japan could not get past goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis, who saved well from both Yuya Osako and Yoshito Okubo.

Japan's Italian coach Zaccheroni added: " We needed to win this game at all costs and that was what we trained for all week.

"We ended up with the players switching their individual positions a lot. By doing that, we hoped to get an edge both in defence and attack once the Greeks went a man down.

"In addition, we tried to attack a lot down the flanks. In the end we were partly able to manage this, but we needed to be more decisive in front of goal.

"In the second half we had maybe 70 per cent or more of the ball and we also created chances.

"But unfortunately we weren't able to put the finishing touch to our moves. We need to keep playing well and win our next game."

Greece, who have conceded three goals and failed to score in their two opening games, can also reach the knockout stages but will need to overcome Ivory Coast while hoping Japan are held at arm's length by Colombia.

So Ethniki head coach Fernando Santos has already turned his thoughts to outwitting the African side.

"We struggled to even get close to the Japanese box, particularly in the first half," he said.

"That's why I feel we played really well in the second 45 minutes.

"We thought Japan might change their style and play more long balls, rather than always playing short passes.

"We now need to win our next game because Ivory Coast have three points and we've just one.

"We need to find a way to put the Ivorians under pressure.

"I hope that everything turns out like Euro 2004, when Greece also needed to win their last (group) game and ended up going through."

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