Yoshida striving for last-16 spot with Japan

By SFC Media Tue 24 Jun First team

Maya Yoshida is hoping Japan can avoid a group-stage exit from the 2014 FIFA World Cup finals when they face Colombia tonight.

The Samurai Blue’s fate is out of their hands, realistically knowing that they must beat the already-qualified Colombians and hope that bottom side Greece beat the Côte d’Ivoire.

And Saints defender Yoshida feels he and his teammates have not reached their usual standards so far during their time in Brazil.

“I expect myself, my team-mates and my country to play better,” he told goal.com.

“When we play against the Asian teams and then European teams or South American teams it's completely different. 

“Asian teams stay behind and play defensively so that's why we can take initiative in the game, but when we play against other countries it's more difficult for us. 

“I know the Colombians are one of the biggest teams in the world and the last two games they've played very well, so it will be a very tough game. 

“But I think we have improved. If we can play normally and play with more confidence I think we can win. It's time to show who we are.”

Japan face Colombia at the Arena Pantanal in Cuiabá at 9pm BST this evening, the same time at which the Côte d’Ivoire take on Greece in Fortaleza.

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