Keisuke Honda says that persistent criticism from the national press could convince a defiant Japan squad they "have nothing to lose" at the World Cup finals.
Japan's preparations for the finals in South Africa have been decidedly unconvincing. Though they took the lead against England, the Blue Samurai were eventually beaten 2-1 and have also been defeated by Ivory Coast, Serbia and South Korea in a disappointing run of form.
Takeshi Okada even offered to stand down when South Korea defeated Japan in their final game on home soil before departing for the finals, and expectations have been lowered considerably since the coach boldly predicted his side would reach the semi-finals.
But Honda, who represents Russian club CSKA Moscow, believes the negativity surrounding the team ahead of their opening game against Cameroon could see pressure lift off the players.
"You think we're going to lose three straight group matches, don't you?" Honda asked Japanese reporters. "If we play thinking we have nothing to lose, it would do us good.
"If we attack the opponents where it hurts them most, it will lead to scoring chances. We want to give all we have as this event takes place just once in four years."
With Netherlands and Denmark also awaiting in Group E, Okada is still hoping to arrange another warm-up game to complete Japan's preparations for the World Cup.
"We have asked for a practice game and I think it will be okay," Okada said. "We are looking at playing a national side. If that can't happen we will look at some local team."