Asian Cup 2011: We Want To Write New History For Japan In Doha - Eiji Kawashima

Posted by admin on Friday, 28 January 2011

Japan's memories of Doha from a couple of decades ago aren't happy ones and goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima is keen to write a new history.
The agony of Doha is still fresh in the memories of the Japanese fans when they missed out on a place in the 1994 World Cup finals.

On that day they were held to a 2-2 draw by Iraq at the Al Ahli Stadium, which allowed their rivals South Korea to book a berth as one of the two Asian nations at the biggest football extravaganza on the planet.

With the Samurai Blue training primarily at the same stadium where the tragedy occured around two decades ago, the team is looking to mark the location with victory this time around.

“At that time, I was student at elementary school. But I remember that moment very clearly," said Eiji Kawashima, Japan's goalkeeper and semi-final hero.

"Also today, we are talking about it. It is a good experience that we can come here and feel the atmosphere and [we are] excited [about] the next match."

The Japanese number one stated that the positive messages from their homeland has motivated the team to perform.

"[We received more messages] than during the World Cup. We really get energy from the messages from Japan and we, the Japanese national team, can play with this energy from Japan."

Following his spot-kick heroics against South Korea, the custodian was asked whether he would prefer winning the final in normal time.

“I hope so. But in a match we always have to fight with our strong hearts. So yeah, we will try," he said.

The absence of Shinji Kagawa is a big blow to Japan but Kawashima sees it as an opportunity for another player to come in the side and do the job.

“Kagawa is a very important player for the team but the Asian Cup is not only important for the players in Europe," Kawashima said.

"We are a unit. We have to fight with all the players."

Kawashima was respectful towards the Australians but added that the Japanese need to focus on their own game rather than play according to the opposition’s strengths.

“They have really experienced players. Some of their players play in Europe and are very good. But we also have strong points [with one of them being] that we are a young team.

"We like to play to our strengths. This is really good challenge for us."