Man U's Kagawa vows best for Blue Samurai
Kagawa says he sees need to be 'more responsible' with Japan's Blue Samurai
Agence France-Presse in Tokyo
Manchester United star Shinji Kagawa has vowed to do his best for Japan at this month's Confederations Cup as the Blue Samurai try to overcome recent unconvincing form.
"At Manchester, and at Dortmund before that, I'm surrounded by great players who make it easy for me to play," said the 24-year-old midfielder, who scored six goals in 20 English Premier League matches after moving from the German side.
With all his technique and creativity, he stopped short of his target of scoring 10 goals or more for the Red Devils, although he did miss almost two months with a left-knee injury. He still dazzled with a hat-trick against Norwich City in March.
"But here, I feel like I need to play a bigger role and step it up," he said of Japan after they booked their fifth straight ticket to the World Cup with a hard-fought 1-1 draw with Australia at home on Tuesday.
"I haven't done the job yet with the national team. I've got to be more responsible," he added, according to Kyodo news agency. "These are some of the things I need to keep in mind throughout the year ahead, starting at the Confederations Cup."
Japan are bunched with hosts and five-time World Cup champions Brazil, four-time winners Italy and Olympic gold medallists Mexico in Group A at the tournament in Brazil, opening next Saturday.
Kagawa has scored just three goals for Japan in the past year, including two in the final World Cup qualifying round and another in a surprise 1-0 friendly win away to France last October.
CSKA Moscow dynamo Keisuke Honda has scored six goals for the country in the meantime, five in qualifiers, playing in central midfield and pushing Kagawa to the left side of the coveted position behind the lone striker.
Alberto Zaccheroni's Blue Samurai, known for tight teamwork but also the lack of finishing power, have struggled in three recent matches, losing to Jordan 2-1 away in a qualifier in March and 2-0 to Bulgaria in a home friendly last week.
"We will keep on working to surprise the world," said Alberto Zaccheroni, a former AC Milan and Juventus coach who took over the Blue Samurai after the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
"I want to show we're on a par with the world's best teams on football's biggest stage," said the 60-year-old Italian tactician.
Kagawa said: "In Japan, we worry too much about what the other thinks. At Manchester, everyone plays for himself and does what he wants but it works out in the end."
He said he would approach next season with confidence as David Moyes takes over from Alex Ferguson as Manchester United manager.