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Colombia v Japan: World cup preview - Keisuke Honda insists Japan will not give up hope

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: June 23, 2014

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Keisuke Honda

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Keisuke Honda insists Japan will not give up hope of progressing to the last 16 despite facing an uphill battle in their final Group C game against Colombia in Cuiaba.

The Japanese lost to the Ivory Coast and then played out an uninspiring 0-0 draw with ten-man Greece on Thursday.

And history is not in their favour in the clash against the table-topping Colombia, with Japan having never beaten a South American side at a World Cup finals – the most recent defeat being on penalties to Paraguay in 2010.

And Honda says he will not ask to be kept aware of the score in the game between Greece and the Ivory Coast, being played simultaneously, insisting his side have to win regardless.

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“Now that we are in a critical situation, we must put the past two games behind and everyone is getting ready for the next game,” the AC Milan forward said.

“It is at the World Cup that unexpected things happen and we now cannot get through on our own, but we will not give up as long as there is possibility.

“Colombia are the strongest team in the group as they have already won their first two games and it really will be a challenge for us to beat them.

“Although they have quick and skilful players up front, we will not just sit back. It will be crucial for us to play with our normal style – chasing the ball down from the front and keeping possession.”

Japan are likely to make a number of changes to the team which faced Greece, with Manchester United’s Shinji Kagawa in line for a recall having come off the bench against the 2004 European champions.

Colombia, meanwhile, sealed their progress to the knockout stages for the first time since Italia 90 with their 2-1 over the Ivory Coast on Thursday.

James Rodriguez became only the second Colombian to score in consecutive World Cup finals games, and the Monaco forward says the South American crowd has something to do with their success.

“It is incredible – getting this kind of support gives us a real lift during matches,” Rodriguez said.

“I know we are playing in Brazil, but it feels like we are at home. With fans like these, we can go far.”

And Colombia’s Argentinean boss Jose Pekerman says his charges will not take the game against the Samurai Blue lightly, with top spot in Group C still to be secured.

He said: “Japan will raise their game and can still be chasing qualification themselves when they play us.”

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