Kawabuchi urges Japan to wake up

Kawabuchi urges Japan to wake up

Published Apr. 24, 2010 9:34 p.m. ET

Former Japan Football Association chief Saburo Kawabuchi has called on Japan's team to generate some excitement before the World Cup.

Coach Takeshi Okada's team has been frequently booed off the pitch in warm-up games and the JFA has had trouble selling tickets for Japan's games.

Japanese football officials have also said ticket sales for World Cup tours from Japan have been lagging compared to four years ago.

"The reason there is no excitement is Japan hasn't played well," Kawabuchi said in Saturday's Sankei Sports newspaper. "It's important the team shows some confidence in their final tuneup games."

The 73-year-old Kawabuchi made the comments at a ceremony displaying the World Cup trophy at Tokyo's Haneda Airport.

Asked what he thought about Japan's chances of bringing home the trophy, Kawabuchi was diplomatic: "I think we'll pass this year. Our goal is the last four."

Japan has been drawn against the Netherlands, Denmark and Cameroon in Group E. Okada will name his World Cup squad on May 10.