Oman spies threaten to add to Japan's woes

May 30, 2008

TOKYO, May 30 (Reuters) - Oman coach Julio Cesar Ribas says he has watched over 100 videos of Japan as part of his meticulous preparation for Monday's World Cup qualifier.

Oman's extensive scouting network paid particular attention to Celtic midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura but Ribas warned that his side were also capable of springing an upset in Yokohama.

'I've seen over 100 videos altogether,' the Uruguayan told reporters on Friday. 'We know how dangerous Nakamura is. He is a fantastic player. If you stop him you limit Japan's options.

'But I don't think Japan's defenders are all that quick so we've definitely got a chance. It depends how the game develops but we're flexible and will have chances.'

Japan coach Takeshi Okada is already under intense pressure following a 1-0 away defeat by Bahrain in March, leaving his side level on three points with Oman in Group Two.

Ribas acknowledged Oman may opt to man-mark Nakamura, who suffered no ill effects from a thigh strain after Tuesday's 0-0 draw with Paraguay in Saitama.

Twice Gulf Cup runners-up Oman beat Thailand 1-0 away in March and a point from Monday's clash in Yokohama would leave Japan in a precarious position with only two teams advancing.

Bahrain have six points from two matches and will be slight favourites to beat Thailand in Bangkok on Monday in the first of four Asian 2010 World Cup qualifiers the sides play in June.

Ribas will put his trust in Bolton Wanderers goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi while Okada appears unsure of his preferred keeper, with Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi suffering a dip in form.

Seigo Narazaki could get the nod in goal but Okada being criticised for his constant tinkering since taking charge for a second time last December.

The 51-year-old abruptly dropped main striker Naohiro Takahara less than 24 hours after giving him a public vote of confidence while Yoshito Okubo is struggling with a cold.