Jordan coach Ray Wilkins has promised his side will make life as awkward as possible for holders Japan in Tuesday’s pivotal Asian Cup clash.
The Blue Samurai are overwhelming favourites to make it three wins out of three to finish top of Group D, but should Jordan pull off a shock in Melbourne they can still progress to the quarter-finals, albeit Iraq remain in the mix.
“The game will be extremely difficult,” Wilkins told reporters on Monday. “But our lads are looking forward to it immensely.
“We will try to make it as uncomfortable as we possibly can against Japan. There hasn’t been a real upset at this Asian Cup but there’s a first time for everything.”
Wilkins, whose side rebounded from a 1-0 defeat to Iraq by hammering Palestine 5-1, added: “We still have a chance to go through and that’s the important thing — it’s still in our hands.”
The Englishman made it clear that Jordan would not throw caution to the wind, with goal difference potentially the deciding factor.
“It will be very important for us to still be in the game after 55 minutes,” he said. “If we go gung-ho against Japan then it could be extremely difficult because they are a very good side. We will be cautious but every opportunity we get to attack them, we will attack them.”
Japan coach Javier Aguirre, whose side need only a point to secure top spot in the group, did not wear the expression of a man embroiled in a match-fixing scandal and awaiting a court date in Valencia.
“No question, we will be going for the win,” insisted the Mexican, who will nevertheless be mindful that Jordan held Japan to 1-1 draws at the last Asian Cup in 2011 and also in 2004, when the Japanese needed penalties to win their quarter-final.
“We don’t think about all the calculations. We will just go out and try to win the game.”
Japan won a record fourth Asian Cup in 2011 and failure in Australia could have serious consequences for Aguirre given the cloud he is under.
However, the former Mexico coach was all smiles before training, waxing lyrical about midfielder Makoto Hasebe, who will make his 56th appearance as captain against Jordan, setting a new Japanese record, two days after turning 31.
“Makoto is a natural leader,” said Aguirre. “He is a calming influence on the team and along with Keisuke [Honda] and Eiji [Kawashima] is the driving force. It was his birthday yesterday so he had a busy day. Hopefully we can celebrate it with a win tomorrow [Tuesday].”
Goalkeeper Kawashima gently teased Hasebe for being a “bit dim” at times.
“He’s a superb leader and has really grown into the captaincy,” he said. “But I went out for a walk yesterday to buy him a present and he wanted to come with me, so I couldn’t get him anything. At times like that you want him to be more switched on.”