Germany manager Hansi Flick said Tuesday that Japan's squad has all the qualities required to give his team a difficult time when they face off at the soccer World Cup finals in Qatar.
Speaking a day before the teams meet at the Khalifa International Stadium in their first Group E game, Flick called himself a "big fan" of Japanese soccer before going on to compliment the tactical intelligence, skills and execution of the Samurai Blue players, especially those based in Germany.
"If you look at the quality in Germany, in the Bundesliga, (Daichi) Kamada does a great job, (Wataru) Endo has been one of the best midfielders in recent years," the 57-year-old Champions League-winning manager said.
"I think, yes, we have quite the challenge ahead of us tomorrow and that is why we tried to prepare as well as we could and I am looking forward to it."
After speaking about the "shock" he felt in the wake of FIFA's decision to ban his and other teams from wearing rainbow armbands in protest of Qatar's stance on LGBT matters, Flick said he now has to focus on soccer.
"We are here to play football and I hope that the team will be able to implement what we practiced for against a team that is really good. I hope the team can have a good start, that is what we are tackling first," he said.
Earlier in the day, the German Football Association announced star winger Leroy Sane would miss the Japan game due to a "knee problem," causing a selection headache for Flick.
While refraining from revealing who might replace the Bayern Munich player, who was a likely starter, Flick did say veteran goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and Joshua Kimmich are "assumed" members of the first 11.
Speaking after his manager at the World Cup Main Media Center on Tuesday, Kimmich echoed Flick's praise of Kamada and the other Bundesliga-based Japanese players.
"I think almost all are very agile, very fast and are strong players. They have great technique so we have to be careful, we have to watch ourselves," said the 27-year-old who has become a key pillar in the German defense over his 71 caps.
When asked about Kamada, Kimmich was particularly complimentary.
"He is a player who is very smart, has a lot of intelligence for the game and in the Bundesliga he has scored quite a lot of goals," he said.
Despite Kimmich and Flick both clearly respecting the threat Japan pose, the manager seems to believe Die Mannschaft can determine their own fate.
"We try to be the most successful we can be and whenever you are in that situation like this, when you have that pressure, it is because you deserve it. That is why we treat it with responsibility and in every game we have to really push ourselves, push our limits," Flick said.
"I think that is something you can expect from the players because they have enormous qualities."