Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu acknowledged his country’s historic soccer debt to Germany but said his team would be no less determined to beat the four-time world champions at the World Cup on Wednesday.

German Dietmar Kramer is known as the godfather of modern Japanese football after working in the country in the 1960s, and players such as Lukas Podolski and Pierre Littbarski have moved to Japan since then.

“We are very grateful to the Germans, as they are role models for us,” Moriyasu said at a press conference on Tuesday. We’re still improving of course and at the same time we’ve incorporated good qualities from Japan into our style of play, so we have kind of mixed feelings about facing Germany but no matter who our opponents are, we’ll do as well as we can.

The exchange of players between Japan and Germany has been reflected in recent years, as captain Maya Yoshida is one of seven players in the Asian national team squad who play for German clubs.

Schalke’s defender said: Bundesliga players share information with the rest of the team. The most important thing is to defend well. We may not have much opportunity to attack but we must have chances on the counter-attack. We think we have a chance.

Group E also includes Spain, the 2010 champion, in addition to Costa Rica, which gives Japan the most difficult draw in the first round in its seventh consecutive trip to the World Cup finals.

Moriyasu said that did not change their ambition to go beyond the last 16 for the first time in a World Cup.

He said: We aim to win, but it is important that we play to the best of our ability, otherwise it will be difficult. We want to qualify for the last 16 and maybe beyond that would make history. This is our goal.

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