Published: 28 January 2009
Bahrain coach Milan Macala and his Japan counterpart Takeshi Okada both believe Junichi Inamoto and Keisuke Honda will play a key role when the two sides meet in AFC Asian Cup qualifying on Wednesday.
MANAMA – Bahrain coach Milan Macala and his Japan counterpart Takeshi Okada both believe Junichi Inamoto and Keisuke Honda will play a key role when the two sides meet in AFC Asian Cup qualifying on Wednesday.
Japan travel to Manama without a host of their big name players who ply their trade for clubs in Europe although Okada has been able to secure the services of Eintracht Frankfurt’s Inamoto and youngster Honda, who plays in Holland with VVV Venlo.
"Inamoto and Honda should be in a good shape as they are in the middle of their domestic season," said Okada.
"Honda does not have a game to play in this period, so I've asked his team to let him join us for the Bahrain game and they agreed. I'm thankful to their clubs for agreeing to release them.”
Macala, meanwhile, believes the fact that many of Japan’s key players are absent can only be good for his side although remains wary it will still be a difficult game particularly with the East Asians fielding the experienced Inamoto and the lively Honda, who made his international debut against Bahrain in a 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifier.
"Japan will be a strong opponent even though they are missing a lot of their players who play in Europe,” remarked the burly Czech.
"But even though Japan have to use some less experienced players we do not have an advantage as they have still got (Junichi) Inamoto and (Keisuke) Honda who play in Europe.”
However, Macala, who saw his side win their opening Group A qualifying game against Hong Kong last week, remains confident that his young side can build on their 3-1 victory and put in a strong performance at the Bahrain National Stadium.
"We have three points from our first match and we are looking forward to getting a good result on Wednesday.
"And we also have a different team from that which played in the World Cup qualifiers as we are looking to give our young players a chance to get more experience and such a game as this will surely help them.
"The game will be totally different from the last time we played Japan as that match was during Ramadan and now we have new players and we will try as hard as we can to produce a good performance and get a good result."
While Macala insists that it is a new look Bahrain that will face Japan, Okada feels that the number of recent meetings between the two sides has led to a greater understanding of the other’s tactics and players.
"Bahrain know our style and they have played with the same players for a long time and although their performance has improved I think that we can deal with them,” said the 52-year-old, who will be without captain Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi after the first choice keeper tore his calf muscle on Sunday.