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Soccer: Samurai Blue practices set plays, shooting in bid to improve before World Cup

Defender Hiroki Sakai connects with a cross for a header during a training session in Seefeld, Austria, on June 5, 2018. (Mainichi)

SEEFELD, Austria -- Japan's national soccer team on June 5 continued practicing set plays and shooting here before their upcoming appearance in the FIFA World Cup in Russia later in the month.

Offensive players tried to score with crosses from both sides, while defenders checked their clearance techniques. The attackers often ended up shouting in frustration after missing their shots even when the goalkeeper was the only person to beat.

The need for a lot of improvement, including the quality of crosses, emerged during the training session. As Yuto Nagatomo, a defender for Turkey's Galatasaray football club, pointed out, "We failed to score on some good passes, or failed to complete some crosses. We cannot keep playing like this, and need to improve our accuracy."

In a friendly game on May 30, the national squad suffered a 2-0 loss after Ghana scored its first goal on a defensive error by Japan from a freekick and then followed it up with a penalty. Kashima Antlers defender Gen Shoji said, "It's mentally tough to concede a goal from a set play, so it was good we had this (set play) training today."

(Japanese original by Shohei Otani, Sports News Department)

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