'Doubt and anguish': Japan coach Nishino in Russia headache

Japan coach Akira Nishino admitted Tuesday that he would spend the next two days agonising over the squad he will take to the World Cup next month.

The 63-year-old, who took charge last month after predecessor Vahid Halilhodzic was abruptly fired, attempted to take the pressure off his players on the eve of their warm-up game with Ghana in Yokohama.

"The final 23 players won't be decided by one game tomorrow," Nishino told reporters.

"At this stage of course I have a general idea but I have to plan for what happens in the case of injuries," added the former Japan Football Association technical director, who names his squad for Russia on Thursday.

"Right up until the morning after tomorrow's game, I have to think about all sorts of eventualities -- I'm sure the doubt and anguish will continue."

Japan meet Colombia, Senegal and Poland in Group H and Nishino wants talismanic forward Keisuke Honda and playmaker Shinji Kagawa -- two of those who did not see eye to eye with Halilhodzic -- to take a key role.

Leicester City striker Shinji Okazaki will, like Kagawa, be given every chance to recover in time for the World Cup as Nishino looks to steady the ship after a turbulent few weeks.

Nishino will be under pressure to avoid a repeat of the 2014 World Cup when Japan crashed out in the first round with barely a whimper -- especially after the JFA gave Halilhodzic the boot so unceremoniously.

"It goes without saying that it's a survival situation for the players," said Nishino, referring to fringe members and those carrying knocks. "But first we have to focus on tomorrow's game."

Japan, who will be playing in their sixth successive World Cup, have only twice reached the last 16 -- in 2010 and as co-hosts in 2002.

"It's a chance to see where the players are in terms of readiness," said Nishino. "But it's also 90 minutes for me to think about squad selection. I want to see some spirit!"