Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni has told his side to be ready for more tough World Cup qualifying battles after a nailbiting 1-0 win over North Korea.
Although the Blue Samurai dominated the doggedly defensive Koreans by 20 shots to five, they needed a goal in the fourth minute of time added on from Maya Yoshida to take three points in their Group C opener.
"I expected it to be a tough battle," said Zaccheroni.
"It was within my expectations that every team would try to put in their best performance against Japan as we are the Asian champions.
"We can handle that pressure," added the former AC Milan boss, who is unbeaten since taking the job after the 2010 World Cup.
The Japanese team, aiming for a fifth straight appearance at the World Cup finals since their debut in 1998, left for Tashkent on Saturday to face Uzbekistan on Tuesday.
Their qualifying group for Brazil 2014 also includes Tajikistan, who lost 1-0 to the Uzbeks at home.
"I expect our opponents in the upcoming matches to defend deep as North Korea did," said Zaccheroni, who had never coached a national team before coming to Japan.
"But we are a highly motivated group and we must be prepared for any opponents -- whether they defend deep or come out in open play."
The Blue Samurai, who reached the last 16 in the 2010 World Cup, have recorded seven wins and five draws under Zaccheroni, including a historic 1-0 friendly victory over Argentina and a record fourth Asian Cup title in January.
They have developed into an attack-minded unit led by CSKA Moscow midfielder Keisuke Honda and Borussia Dortmund goal-machine Shinji Kagawa.
"My team can create more chances than our opponents within 90 minutes as we did against North Korea," Zaccheroni said.
The current squad missed Honda, who underwent surgery in Barcelona on Thursday on his injured right knee, and Inter Milan full back Yuto Nagatomo, who has been sidelined with a shoulder injury since late July.
Honda has been the driving force behind Japan's successes at the World Cup and the Asian Cup.
"It is true that we don't have players of their stature," the coach said. "But I am 100 percent satisfied with the players who have filled in for Honda and Nagatomo."
Urawa Reds midfielder Yosuke Kashiwagi and Dutch-born striker Mike Havenaar of Ventforet Kofu have replaced Honda and injury-hit Kengo Nakamura on the squad.