Updated: 06/16/2014 08:30 | By Agence France-Presse

'We still believe', says Japan's Kawashima

Goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima said Sunday that Japan still believe in themselves as they prepare for a must-win game to keep their World Cup hopes alive after defeat in their opening match.

'We still believe', says Japan's Kawashima

Japan's goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima during a World Cup match against Ivory Coast in Recife on June 14, 2014 - by Javier Soriano

Coach Alberto Zaccheroni admitted he could be forced into a radical rethink after a 2-1 loss to Ivory Coast on Saturday, during which the Asian champions took the lead only to see the Africans hit back with two goals.

The veteran Italian coach had some strong words, saying he expected more from his players, who were out-fought in Recife by Ivory Coast, inspired by substitute Didier Drogba.

Japan next face Greece in Natal on Thursday before tackling Colombia in Cuiaba on June 24.

"It's important that we have to be fresh for the next game. We have to change our minds for the next game," said Kawashima after a training session back at the team's Itu base, refusing to be drawn on what Zaccheroni had said to his players.

"We just have to give 100 percent to win the game."

"We have a good group and we have confidence as well so we can't lose our next game. We believe in ourselves," added the goalkeeper, who plays his club football for Standard Liege in Belgium.

Manchester United playmaker Shinji Kagawa was asked whether it would benefit Japan to play Greece next as opposed to group C leaders Colombia, who may have already qualified by the time the teams meet. But he said the order of games did not matter.

When questioned about whether he felt fresh after not featuring regularly for United last season, Kagawa said it was difficult to compare the two situations. 

"It's different playing for a club team and the national team."

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