Japan head coach Akira Nishino said on Monday that it was crucial for all of his players to pay special attention to Colombia midfielder James Rodriguez during the teams first match at the 2018 World Cup, which is set to be held in Saransk on Tuesday.
"Rodriguez is a symbol of the Colombian team, it will be very difficult to keep him at bay, the whole team will have to take care of him. We can't give him an opportunity to move freely on the pitch," Nishino told journalists.
He added that former CSKA Moscow midfielder Keisuke Honda, who has already played at two FIFA World Cups, was an integral part of the national team despite not being capped on some occasions.
The Japanese national team have already faced Colombia at a FIFA World Cup, when the teams played against each other at the previous tournament in Brazil and Japan failed to move into the knockout stage after suffering a 4-1 defeat.
Japan, who have twice made it past the group stage at FIFA World Cups, will also take on Poland and Senegal in their other two Group H matches.