The Japan national team held their first training session at their World Cup camp in the southwestern Russian city of Kazan on Thursday.
Coach Akira Nishino and the 23-man squad arrived the previous night by charter flight after wrapping up their pre-World Cup camp in Innsbruck, Austria. Kazan is situated roughly one and a half hours east of Moscow by air.
The Samurai Blue concluded their warmup campaign on a high note by beating Paraguay 4-2 in the western Austrian resort city on Tuesday.
The victory, the first in three matches under Nishino, was a much-needed morale booster for Japan following an extended run of lackluster results.
The squad held Thursday’s session at the ground of Rubin Kazan, a club which has been one of the mainstays of the Russian Premier League since earning promotion to the domestic top-flight in 2003, and has also played in the UEFA Champions League.
Members of the Japan squad including attacking midfielder Takashi Inui, who spearheaded the victory over Paraguay with a two-goal performance, ran through drills in front of media and a number of traveling fans.
Inui, who is joining Spanish La Liga side Real Betis on a three-year contract, staked a strong claim to a spot in the Samurai Blue starting 11 for the tournament opener against Colombia in Saransk on Tuesday.
The team will leave Kazan on a charter flight for Saransk on Sunday night, returning to their base after the match.
The capital of the oil-rich, majority-Muslim Tatarstan region, Kazan is the sixth-largest city in the Russian Federation by population.
Promoted as Russia’s sporting capital, the city has several world-class sports venues and has regularly hosted international competitions, notably the 2013 Summer Universiade and the 2015 FINA World Championships.
The city’s showpiece stadium, the 45,000-seat Kazan Arena, will host four World Cup group stage matches as well as one round of 16 clash and a quarterfinal.