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Thursday, 11 April, 2002, 16:00 GMT 17:00 UK
Passion stirs Troussier dream
A Japanese fan sports the national flag on his face
Japan's fans are always colourful in their support
The passion and pride stirred by playing a World Cup on home soil can spur Japan on to at least a place in the second round, believes national coach Philippe Troussier.

The Frenchman believes a combination of his player's grit and determination, national pride and home crowd support make his minimum goal of making it beyond the group stage.

"The key factor for us is that we'll be playing at home, with the fans behind us," said Troussier.

"On top of that, there is the blood coursing through the players' veins - their pride in being Japanese - they will never give up."

Troussier's side has been on something of a roll, winning the 2000 Asian Cup and reaching the final of last year's Confederations Cup before losing to France.

As a result, Troussier believes they have a good chance of getting out of Group H which also includes Russia, Belgium and Tunisia.

"The first thing we need to achieve is to score our first World Cup goal, the second is to win our first match and the third is to get through the first round," he said.

"Even if we only manage a draw against Belgium, that will still be something to write home about."

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  P GD PTS
JAPAN 3 +3 7
BELGIUM 3 +1 5
RUSSIA 3 0 3
TUNISIA 3 -4 1

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