Manager Hajime Moriyasu and captain Wataru Endo stated Japan are gearing up nicely ahead of Wednesday's Asian Cup round-of-16 clash with Bahrain in Qatar, where the tournament's most successful nation are seeking their fifth championship.

After finishing as runners-up with some nervous moments and a defeat to Iraq in Group D, the Samurai Blue, 17th in the FIFA rankings, have had a six-day interval to ready themselves to face 86th-ranked Group E winners Bahrain in Doha, hoping to improve on their 8-2 head-to-head record.

Japan national team manager Hajime Moriyasu speaks at a press conference in Doha on Jan. 30, 2024, a day ahead the Samurai Blue's round-of-16 clash with Bahrain at the Asian Cup football tournament. (Kyodo)

"The players are heading into the match in good condition both mentally and physically," Moriyasu said Tuesday. "(Bahrain) are difficult opponents and it'll be a tough match, but I'm sure our players will show their abilities on the pitch confident of what we've been doing."

Japan went out against Croatia at the same stage during the World Cup in Qatar in 2022 when players offered themselves to take spot kicks ahead of the penalty shootout. Moriyasu suggested he would be picking the takers this time around.

"I'll have the option to choose them myself high up in the priority list," he said. "I have things to reflect on (from the Croatia game) in terms of laying the responsibilities on the players. But there'll be an in-match atmosphere to consider and it's possible I'll opt for that previous way."

While eager to "take a plunge" as a team against Bahrain after fruitful discussions within the Japan camp, midfielder Endo, who has played half a season with Liverpool, had to absorb club manager Jurgen Klopp's surprise announcement Friday that he will leave the side at the end of the campaign.

Japanese players, including Wataru Endo (front, 2nd from L), train in Doha on Jan. 30, 2024, ahead of a last-16 knockout match against Bahrain in the Asian Cup football tournament on Jan. 31. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

"I was surprised of course, but I can only respect his decision as he's someone who has been carrying Liverpool for a long time," Endo said, a day after former Reds attacker Takumi Minamino said he was "shocked" by the news.

"The players who have been with him longer than I might have been shocked more, but I believe finishing the season off by securing a title will remain our goal as a team."

The 30-year-old said the timing of the revelation will not distract from his job in the Middle East.

"Not really. He's not leaving in winter, he'll be there when I return," Endo said. "Our (Liverpool's) target for this season hasn't changed at all, we can all think about summer onward when we get there. I'm only thinking about winning the Asian Cup at the moment."

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