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Wednesday, 10 April, 2002, 10:28 GMT 11:28 UK
Alex out to prove point
Japan midfielder Alex
Alex may be given his chance by Philippe Troussier
Japan midfielder Alessandro Santos has been told his place in Japan's World Cup squad is assured if he can prove that he is a team player.

The Brazilian-born Shimizu S-Pulse player, a left-sided midfielder known simply as Alex, is likely to be coach Philippe Troussier's first choice for a starting place on the flank.

The 24-year-old claimed Japanese nationality last November after seven years playing in Japan.

And Troussier is pleased to be able to call upon his precocious talents.

"On the left side, we have Nakamura, Hiroshi Nanami, Toshihiro Hattori, Masashi Motoyama and Alex as well as Ono," Troussier said.

"We have six good players. Everybody is at the same level and only three or four out of six will play in the World Cup.

"The most important thing is the balance in the team. I want him (Alex) to show how far he can integrate himself with the team.

"The Japanese team is not an ensemble of individuals. Each player must keep the balance with each other well tactically, technically, physically and mentally."

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