(MENAFN - Gulf Times) Japan has not had the best of preparations for the World Cup in Russia, and news of an earthquake back home added to their worries yesterday, while a false hotel alarm a day before their opener against Colombia did little to help settle the team.
The four-time Asian champions, who also face Senegal and Poland, have undergone a turbulent 10 months since qualifying, culminating in the firing of Bosnian Vahid Halilhodzic, the former Algeria coach, in April after a string of poor results.
Former technical director Akira Nishino, who played as a midfielder for the national side, was named to lead the Samurai Blue in Russia, and has been in charge for just three games in the lead-up to the tournament.
The team woke up to the news yesterday that Osaka, Japan's second-biggest metropolis, was hit by a magnitude 6.1 earthquake in the early hours, killing three people and injuring dozens.
'There were players who were a bit shocked by this incident and they were concerned about relatives and family members, Nishino told reporters ahead of Japan's Group H opener at the Mordovia Arena.
'They were concerned, so this psychological impact is something I am a bit worried about. But we, the team staff, are consulting with them and hope they will settle down.
At about the same time as the earthquake, a hotel alarm went off by mistake, leaving the Japanese players nervous and groggy.
'The alarm continued for a while. Some of the players were delicate and nervous and some of them looked a little bit tired in the morning, Nishino added.
'So I assume there was some negative impact on the players.