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Mainz star Okazaki: Expectations for Japan have increased

Shinji Okazaki believes expectations on the Japan national team will increase massively at this year's World Cup.

The Blue Samurai have never made it past the Round of 16 on the world stage with their 2002 and 2010 campaigns their best results yet.

There is now a higher number of Japanese players at European clubs than ever before including Shinji Kagawa (Manchester United), Keisuke Honda (AC Milan), Yuto Nagatomo (Inter Milan) and Makoto Hasebe (FC Nurnberg) which has prompted Mainz striker Okazaki to suggest that supporters will be anticipating an improved showing in Brazil.

"Our will to survive the World Cup group phase is huge and the fans expect that of us," Okazaki said.

"We have the chance to get out of the last 16 for the first time.

"Many of our players are active abroad, some at top clubs, so the expectations in Japan have grown."

Of Japan's preparations, Okazaki added: "We used the Confederations Cup (in Brazil last year) to test things out and wanted to play nice football, but we lacked the winning mentality, so we need to work on a few things."

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Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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