Japan’s Eiji Kawashima indicated that Japan know the path to a fifth Asian Cup.
The Standard Liege goalkeeper was rarely troubled in the defending champions’ 4-0 win over Palestine at Hunter Stadium in Newcastle.
“We are confident because we became champions last time [in 2011] and also because we have much more experience after these four years,” Kawashima said. “[Additionally] we’ve been able to calmly see how we can become champions again, and we have to take it game by game.”
The 31-year-old recognized the historical significance of the game, which was Palestine’s Asian Cup debut.
“If you look at the crowds in the stadium, they were very happy to see the Palestine team on the pitch,” he noted. “Of course we know Palestine’s situation, and it was a pleasure to play against them.”
Kawashima is one of a number of Europe-based players who make up the backbone of Javier Aguirre’s squad, and he admitted that the January tournament left him and players such as defender Maya Yoshida in a precarious situation.
“If somebody is selected for the national team we always want them to play,” he said. “But we know that if it’s a tough competition then it’s difficult to keep your position, especially for goalkeepers and defenders.
“It’s not easy to replace them [in the lineup]. Maybe strikers think differently, but not defenders and goalkeepers.”