Dropped from the starting lineup for Thursday’s 0-0 draw with Greece, Japan’s Shinji Kagawa wants to make up for his recent poor form by rescuing the side’s World Cup hopes.
Japan go into Tuesday’s final game against Colombia on the brink of elimination, after their last result followed a 2-1 opening defeat to the Ivory Coast.
Their opponents may have already qualified for the last 16 but, in addition to all three points, they also need the African side to fail to beat the Greeks in Group C’s other clash.
Italian manager Alberto Zaccheroni opted for the experienced Yoshito Okubo over Kagawa in the last match, but the Manchester United midfielder believes that he can make a difference if given the chance.
‘That is something that the coach decides and has nothing to do with being Japan’s number 10,’ he said. ‘I respect the coach.
'I felt that in the first match I wasn’t performing. In both matches I haven’t been able to get good results but I’m going to try to change that in the next match.
‘We need to turn things around mentally. We didn’t get a result in the first two games and everyone is concerned about it but, as long as there is a chance, we aren’t going to give up.’
Boasting 58 caps and 19 international goals, Kagawa went into his first World Cup as arguably the side’s most highly regarded player, along with AC Milan’s Keisuke Honda, but his poor form from the domestic season has carried over into the national team setup.
Coming off a disastrous campaign with United, in which he was restricted to just 18 Premier League appearances under the since-departed David Moyes, the former Borussia Dortmund star has been a shadow of the player whose stellar Bundesliga performances earned him a £17 million move to Old Trafford in June 2012, with his once glittering reputation taking a noticeable blow.
With new manager Louis van Gaal arriving this summer, the 25-year-old’s club future may currently be in limbo but re-finding his form for the decisive Colombia game would be a timely reminder of what he is capable of.
A heroic performance this week, either from the start or off the bench, would certainly go a long way towards silencing some of Kagawa's doubters, although flattering to deceive yet again could just serve to add more fuel to the fire.