Japan and Iceland kick off a triangular tournament, also featuring England, today with the minds of all three teams already elsewhere.
While the England coach, Sven Goran Eriksson, will be giving his players a chance to book a place in the starting line-up for the Euro 2004 match with France in Lisbon on 13 June, Japan and Iceland also have some important tests ahead.
The Japan coach, Zico, admits the World Cup qualifier with India on 9 June is uppermost in his mind, while Iceland's joint coach Logi Olafsson is already planning ahead to his own country's World Cup qualifiers later this year.
Acknowledging that this was only a friendly tournament, the former Brazilian international Zico said: "We are bearing in mind our World Cup qualifier with India so these two games with Iceland and England are relaxed."
In keeping with the friendly nature of the match, Zico has already revealed his side, subject to no adverse reactions to what was a strenuous training session at the City of Manchester Stadium yesterday.
Alex Santos, the Brazilian-born winger, is switched to the left wing so that Akira Kaji can be tried out on the right. The two wide men will form a five-man midfield with Shunsuke Nakamura, who plays for the Serie A side Reggina, in the playmakers role while Shinji Ono and Junichi Inamoto will provide the industry.
Zico said: "I told Santos he would be playing on the other side and he understood the reasons and the other lad [Kaji] deserves his chance."
The Brazilian added that he was not expecting any heroics. "Our system is designed to make the players feel comfortable and since most play in Japan it will provide good experience of foreign competition," he said. "I tried to make things as simple as possible for them."
Olafsson was delaying his team selection until he had consulted his fellow coaches and would only reveal that Iceland, like Japan, will be playing a 3-5-2 format.
He is trying to instil a good team spirit for his side ahead of a tough World Cup qualification campaign. "If we do that, it will be a very good start," he said. "This tournament is a very big challenge for us and we must wait and see what happens when the time comes."Reuse content