Japan expect a physical contest against a "formidable" Costa Rica at the World Cup finals in Qatar, Samurai Blue manager Hajime Moriyasu said Wednesday.
The Central Americans joined Japan, Germany and Spain in Group E after clinching the last spot at the 32-team tournament with a 1-0 win over New Zealand in an intercontinental playoff Tuesday night in Qatar.
Former Arsenal forward Joel Campbell, now with Mexican club Monterrey, scored in the third minute to send Costa Rica to their third straight World Cup finals and sixth overall.
The Kiwis were reduced to 10 men when substitute Kosta Barbarouses was red-carded for a bad challenge in the 69th minute at World Cup venue Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan.
Moriyasu said world No. 23 Japan will not take 31st-ranked Costa Rica lightly when they meet in their second group-stage match on Nov. 27.
"My first match as manager of the senior national team was a win against Costa Rica, but they were a physically strong team," Moriyasu told Kyodo News.
"My impression then was that they would be a very tough team to play if it were in the World Cup."
The 3-0 victory for Japan in the September 2018 friendly at Panasonic Stadium involved a Los Ticos side missing some regulars including Campbell and goalkeeper Keylor Navas, the Paris Saint-Germain shot stopper anchoring what is expected to be a defensive, counterattacking outfit in Qatar.
"(Navas) has a wealth of experience at the world's highest level," Moriyasu said.
"It's not just Germany and Spain. Without a doubt, Costa Rica are strong opponents, too. I want to prepare to take three points against them in the second game."
Japan's 3-0 loss Tuesday to fellow World Cup qualifiers Tunisia highlighted the Samurai Blue's deficiencies against opponents prepared to sit back and hit on the counter.
The Costa Ricans anticipate another difficult contest against Japan when the two countries meet for the first time on the sport's biggest stage.
"They play with high intensity, great quality, great technique, so obviously it's not an easy team to play against," defender Kendall Waston said following his team's playoff win. "They have a lot of players playing in top teams."
Japan will face four-time champions Germany in their first match of the tournament on Nov. 23. They will wrap up the group stage against European heavyweights Spain on Dec. 1.
After performing well in successive World Cup warmups, the Samurai Blue ended their run of four games over 13 days in disappointing fashion with the loss to Tunisia in Osaka.