TOKYO (AFP) - Japan coach Ivica Osim has demanded his entire squad muck in and be flexible against Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam in their tough Group B at the Asian Cup next month.
"Imagine everybody is defending and everybody is attacking," Celtic star Shunsuke Nakamura told sports dailies, explaining what the seasoned Bosnian strategist has told the defending champions.
"Gone are the times when two of the midfielders were offensive and the two others were defensive."
Sanfrecce Hiroshima striker Hisato Sato added: "(Osim) particularly emphasised the importance of defence by forwards.
"Both Qatar and the UAE are tight when it comes to ball possession and fierce in pressing. We surely have to bear it in mind."
Osim has played videos of Qatar and the UAE in action in separate meetings with his forwards, midfielders and defenders at a training camp just outside Tokyo since Sunday.
He personally watched the two countries play at the Gulf Cup in January, won by the UAE under French coach Bruno Metsu.
The equally dangerous Qatar, who won the Asian Games title at home in December, are led by Dzemaludin Musovic who was Osim's assistant when they piloted the former Yugoslavia to the 1990 World Cup quarter-finals.
"We confirmed that their forwards have individual skills and often put themselves in nasty spots," said Sanfrecce Hiroshima defender Yuchi Komano.
"They come attacking by passing the ball. They have aggressive players on the frontline and we need to take care of them," added the gutsy 25-year-old, who made his World Cup debut at Germany last year.
Osim, 66, took over from Brazilian legend Zico as coach after Japan crashed out of the World Cup without winning.
Japan, bidding for a third straight Asian Cup, open their campaign against Qatar on July 9 in Hanoi.
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