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(From The Yomiuri Shimbun/Daily Yomiuri)
2006 World Cup Preview / Group F / Will Japan prove Nakata wrong?
Shintaro Kano Daily Yomiuri Sportswriter
A year ago, as the nation celebrated qualifying for its third straight World Cup finals, one man quickly brought Japan down to earth.
Upon arrival at Narita Airport, after beating North Korea 2-0 in an empty stadium at Bangkok to secure qualification in June, Hidetoshi Nakata, level headed as ever, told a news conference that the Japanese were not good enough to achieve their goal of reaching the second round in Germany.
"At this point in time, this team does not have what it takes to make it out of the group," said Nakata, the only player to have appeared in all seven of Japan's previous World Cup matches.
The ex-skipper is now 28, having done some growing up since Japan's first World Cup eight years ago in France, where Nakata could …