Japan shaken by earthquake back home before World Cup opener, says boss Akira Nishino

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Japan boss Akira Nishino leads his side into a clash against Colombia.

Japan boss Akira Nishino admits the squad have been shaken by the earthquake back home ahead of their World Cup opener against Colombia.

They embark on their sixth straight campaign on Tuesday when they kick off in Group H.

But Sunday’s 6.1 magnitude earthquake in Osaka, which has reportedly killed two and injured more than 200, has upset the team.

“There were players who were a bit shocked by this incident and they were concerned about relatives and family members,” Nishino told a press conference ahead of the game at the Mordovia Arena.

“They were concerned, so this psychological impact is something I am a bit worried about. But we, the team staff, are consulting with them and hope they will settle down.”

Japan lost 4-1 to Colombia in the group stage in Brazil four years ago but skipper Makoto Hasebe is confident they are ready.

“We are in excellent shape and I hope we will come as one onto the pitch,” Hasebe told a press conference.

“We will try to show our teamwork and we are confident we’ll be able to do it. We have a new head coach, and we had to build up our team again, but I think we are well prepared for tomorrow’s game.”

Colombia kick off with fitness fears surrounding James Rodriguez while Radamel Falcao is in line to make his World Cup debut.

Rodriguez, the top scorer in Brazil 2014 with six goals, missed training on Friday due to muscle fatigue with his left calf reportedly the issue. The 26-year-old trained at the Mordovia Arena on Monday.

“We are waiting to see what the doctors will say after the last check,” Colombia coach Jose Pekerman told a press conference.

“We always wait until the very last minute before we decide.

“World Cups are played after a very heavy season. It is true some players arrived here in Russia not feeling very comfortable. They have all improved very much, even if some of them are a little tired.”

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Watch: Saudi Arabia Football Federation president Adel Ezzat believes an Asian nation can win the World Cup one day

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Adel Ezzat (c) has high hopes for Asian football.

Saudi Arabia didn’t fare well in their World Cup opener against Russia, falling 5-0 in a disappointing showing, but the nation are still on the path to achieving a grander goal.

Saudi Arabia Football Federation president Adel Ezzat believes a World Cup triumph is in the future of a team from the region.

“We have a vision that an Asian country will win the World Cup one day,” said Ezzat.

Check out what else Ezzat had to say in the video below.

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Juan Cuadrado and Keisuke Honda are main men as Colombia face Japan with James Rodriguez in doubt

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Colombia kick off their World Cup 2018 campaign against Japan in Saransk on Tuesday.

The Group H-clash may not feature James Rodriguez, but there are plenty of others who could star.

Here’s a look at some of the key players ahead of the encounter.

DANGEROUS ATTACKERS

Radamel Falcao v Yoshinori Muto

Radamel Falcao was at the top of his game ahead of World Cup 2014, but an untimely injury ruled him out of the tournament. A poor two-year spell in England followed but he’s enjoyed a resurgence back at Monaco in recent times, scoring more than 40 goals over two seasons.

With Shinji Okazaki unlikely to feature after picking up an injury in the final warm-up match against Paraguay, Japan may have to turn to Yoshinori Muto to lead the attack. The 25-year-old has impressed in the Bundesliga in an ordinary Mainz side, scoring eight times this season.

Radamel Falcao.

Radamel Falcao.

WIDE MEN

Juan Cuadrado v Keisuke Honda

James Rodriguez is a doubt for the clash with a calf strain and if he doesn’t feature, much of the attacking impetus will lie with Juan Cuadrado. The Juventus winger’s immense contributions during the last World Cup were somewhat overshadowed by his compatriot’s efforts.

He is a serial chance creator, assisting six times in Serie A this season and has a habit of winning free-kicks.

Keisuke Honda is just as admired in Japan as James is in Colombia. The 32-year-old is no longer at the peak of his powers but his left-foot is still very capable and he retains his penchant for the spectacular as many of his 36 international goals suggest.

Keisuke Honda.

Keisuke Honda.

DEFENSIVE GUARDS

Davinson Sanchez v Maya Yoshida

Davinson Sanchez is one of the best young defenders in Europe. He was named Player of the Year Ajax in his first season and has impressed at Tottenham since his big-money move.

The 22-year-old’s speed enables him to keep pace with most forwards while his composure on the ball makes him integral to the team’s build-up play.

Previously deemed an accident waiting to happen, Maya Yoshida has grown significantly during his time in the Premier League and is now a defensive stalwart for Japan. With 82 caps to his name, the 29-year-old brings plenty of experience to the table and is a real threat from set-pieces.

Davinson Sanchez.

Davinson Sanchez.

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