Kawashima won’t pay the penalty again

Eiji Kawashima

Eiji Kawashima

Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima is still rankled by the team’s World Cup second round loss to Paraguay on penalties four years ago, a disappointment he is determined to erase at next month’s tournament in Brazil.

Otherwise impressive in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Kawashima could not stop a single spot-kick in the round of 16 match against Paraguay, who won the contest 5-3 after the match ended goalless following extra time

“It’s finally here. I’ve been working towards this World Cup ever since the Paraguay game four years ago,” the Standard Liege custodian told Kyodo news agency at Japan’s pre-World Cup training camp in Kagoshima Prefecture.

Under Alberto Zaccheroni, Japan will be bidding for a first quarterfinal appearance in a World Cup and Kawashima said at least he was better prepared this time.

“I feel just as strong about playing for the national team as I did four years ago,” said the 31-year-old.

“I want to play now, and I wanted to play four years ago when I wasn’t always in the team.

“I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself the last four years so I can understand what it takes to win at the highest level, and that’s a huge difference.

“Four years ago, I could only imagine what it was like on the world stage.”

Japan suffered an injury scare on Saturday when defender Gotoku Sakai pulled out of training with a right-knee problem.

The VfB Stuttgart full-back was taken to a hospital for tests and the management were awaiting the results.

“He came down awkwardly on a challenge, and we pulled him out straightaway and immediately iced the knee,” JFA technical director Hiromi Hara said.

Japan face Ivory Coast in their Group C opener on June 14 in Recife before meeting Greece (June 19) andColombia (June 24).

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