Shinji Kagawa is adamant Japan can win the FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil and the Manchester United playmaker can’t wait to get started.
Although the competition is traditionally viewed as a warm-up for next summer's World Cup, offering the host nation a chance to fine-tune stadia and other logistical issues, Kagawa is taking it seriously and insists his team-mates will not be making up the numbers.
And just a month after bagging his first Barclays Premier League title with United, the 24-year-old wants to develop his burgeoning medal collection and is excited to test himself against Group A foes Brazil, Italy and Javier Hernandez’s Mexico.
“Our opponents are all excellent teams, so this will be a good gauge of how we can perform away from home with a year to go until the World Cup,” Shinji told FIFA.com ahead of Saturday’s curtain-raiser against the hosts at the newly-built Estadio Nacional Mane Garrincha in Brasilia.
“We need this sort of preparation, and I want to see how we handle the atmosphere and how far we can go. We’re going there to win, so the question will be how we can achieve that. That’s my mind-set going into this tournament.
“All the teams have many fantastic players, and each team has its own individual style. Our defence and attack need to be in sync, and even then we won’t win unless we work hard. But this is why I play the game, and I can’t wait to get stuck in.”