May 27, 2003 - The head coach of the Japanese men's national team, Mikiyasu Tanaka stressed at a press conference on Tuesday that his team has a lot of room for improvement when they play against Greece in Week 3 of the World League this weekend in Fukushima, Japan.
The Japanese team has just returned home from two weekends away from home where they lost both their Pool D games to Greece in the opening weekend of the World League before beating France, the third place team in the 2002 World Championships, in the first of two encounters last weekend.
"I was a little bit surprised to realise their high level of performance when we played our opening two matches against Greece two weeks ago on their home soil," Tanaka said. "They were very impressive in defensive, particularly on spike receiving and service receiving. So we have to improve our performance against Greece this weekend. These two matches are crucial for us in order to advance to the finals in Madrid"
Tanaka believes his side, who is still missing their star player and captain Yoichi Kato, who has been playing in the Italian Serie A league, is heading in the right direction largely due to the improved performances of their ace attacker, Takahiro Yamamoto, who regained his aggressiveness in France, after disappointing performances in Greece.
"I am pleased with the current form of Yamamoto and our setter, Daisuke Usami. In France we could have won the second match as well, if we had not committed silly errors on the crucial points," Tanaka said.
Although Kato has returned to Japan following an Italian league title win with Treviso, he will be rested until Japan play the Czech Republic in mid-June in Tokyo.