OSAKA: Japan coach Zico was bitterly disappointed with his side's display in the 4-1 Kirin Cup defeat by Argentina on Sunday.
Even though they were not expected to beat the twice former world champions, Japan's lack of cohesion and poor tactical awareness alarmed the Brazilian.
“We were totally outplayed,” Zico told reporters. “South American teams like to come at you but we just let them control the game.”
The 50-year-old read the riot act to his players at halftime after brilliant goals from Javier Saviola and Javier Zanetti had put Argentina 2-0 up.
“I asked them what on earth they thought they were doing giving Argentina the space to do what they wanted. It was more a mental letdown from the players than anything else,” said Zico.
Japan pulled a goal back through defender Yutaka Akita, who headed in a corner from Brazilian-born substitute Alex 10 minutes into the second half.
But Argentina quickly re-established control and late goals from substitutes Bernardo Romeo and Maximiliano Rodriguez underlined their superiority.
Japan play Paraguay on Wednesday in their second Kirin Cup assignment knowing that only victory will help restore confidence before they travel to France for the June 18-29 Confederations Cup.
Booed off the pitch after losing 1-0 to South Korea in Tokyo the previous weekend, the Japan players were jeered by sections of the crowd again after the final whistle in Osaka.
“We're not getting into scoring positions often enough,” said Italian-based midfielder Hidetoshi Nakata after his 50th Japan appearance.
“It's not the system that's the problem. Tactically, the players need to be more aware of what's going on.”
Japan have won only one of six matches under Zico.
“My job is to get the best out of the players. I picked the players who made those mistakes, so I take full responsibility,” he said.
However, the way in which Junichi Inamoto was brushed aside by Argentina captain Zanetti in the build-up to a fabulous second goal was indicative of the gulf in class between the two teams. – Reuters