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Okazaki aims to impress Labbadia

26 February 2012 07:56

Japan international Shinji Okazaki is hopeful his recent goalscoring form has bolstered his value to Stuttgart boss Bruno Labbadia.

The former Shimizu S-Pulse striker played a major role in Stuttgart's 4-1 win against Freiburg on Saturday, getting on the scoresheet with a left-footed tap-in after 21 minutes.

"I'm scoring goals, then when we need it I'm dropping back to help defend. I think he's noticed," Okazaki said.

"Players like me and Gotoku (Sakai), when the team's balance is in trouble we drop back, and we're able to help out at defence."

"If a manager understands that, Japanese players are very useful to him. I hope more people understand that. I think on top of that, scoring goals is also improving my evaluation."

The Freiburg game was a confidence booster for the 20-year-old Sakai, who assisted his team-mate Martin Harnik for the opening goal of the match.

The Japan youth international, who is currently on loan at Stuttgart from J-League club Albirex Niigata, is quietly happy with his performances so far in Germany.

"If you look at it overall parts of my defending has been a little unstable at times, but on the attack I was able to show off my abilities," he said.

"In the first match I started in against (Hertha) Berlin, they spent long time with 10 players and they didn't really fight hard so it was difficult for me to use that (to inspire myself)."

"But in the last two games, especially in the attack, I was able to play well, so I'm happy about that."

But Sakai's position in Stuttgart's starting line-up is in doubt with left-back Cristian Molinaro to return from his three-game suspension next week.

"I'm not sure about that (retaining his spot), but we have a week to go, so I'll have to play well in practice and make my appeal," he said.

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Sunday 13 July

Saturday 12 July

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Bundesliga table

# Team MP D P
1 0 +0 0
2 0 +0 0
3 0 +0 0
4 0 +0 0
5 0 +0 0
6 0 +0 0
7 0 +0 0
8 0 +0 0
9 0 +0 0
10 0 +0 0
11 0 +0 0
12 0 +0 0
13 0 +0 0
14 0 +0 0
15 0 +0 0
16 0 +0 0
17 0 +0 0
18 0 +0 0

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