KEY Japanese player Keisuke Honda says Sunday morning’s Asian Cup final will be less of a beautiful game spectacle and more of a battle.
The CSKA Moscow midfielder told the Mainichi Daily News that the Socceroos will rely on their renowned physicality and that the Blue Samurai need to be ready for such a challenge.
"We shouldn't expect it to be pretty," said Honda. "We need to be prepared, mentally, because the match could get down and dirty. That's how it is in Asia and that's how things have been for us all tournament."
However, former A-League and Sydney based player Naoki Imaya told au.fourfourtwo.com there is still great confidence back in Japan despite concerns over striker Shinji Kagawa’s absence due to a broken foot.
“The Japanese public and the media are worried about Kagawa's injury but the players believe they can take the Cup,” Imaya, who heads Tokyo's Touch of Class football academy, said.
“I think the overall feeling is very positive from both the media and the players. As for myself, it would definitely be a game to watch and looking forward to great football being played
“Both teams brought their best squad for the tournament and play different style of football and both play effective football, so it should be a great game to watch.”
Japan have already qualified for the next Asian Cup – to be held in Australia in 2015 – but coach Alberto Zaccheroni wants his side at the 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil as Asian Cup winners.
“It always helps to face the stronger teams in terms of development," Zaccheroni added. "Their style is different from that of any other team we have faced here.
"But … we have automatically qualified for the next Asian Cup and that in itself will make a huge difference to our upcoming fixtures.”
And the Italian coach praised his side’s determination after a penalty shoot-out semi-final win over South Korea and ahead of a final looming as a war of attrition between two very good sides.
"The great thing about this team is that we leave everything we have out on the pitch, every time…” he said “We have one more game to go, which happens to be the most important one.
"We've come this far, I want to win it. We will need to recover as much as we can. That will be the key for us."
He added: "Confederations Cup or not, I want to take the Asian Cup back to Japan."