Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni defended under-fire goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima on Monday, but stopped short of confirming he would play in their Asian Cup semi-final against South Korea.
Kawashima was criticised in the Japanese media after a shaky performance in the 3-2 quarter-final win over hosts Qatar, having allowed Fabio Cesar's tame free-kick to creep in and put Qatar 2-1 up in the second half.
"I use the same criteria to pick the goalkeeper as I do for picking outfield players," explained Zaccheroni.
"Is the goalkeeper talented? Can he play for the team? Is he trying to improve himself? These are the things I am always looking at."
Japan had to come from behind twice before eventually defeating Qatar thanks to a last-minute goal by defender Masahiko Inoha, but Zaccheroni rejected suggestions the Japanese defence was their weak link.
"You can't just talk about one block of the team," said the Italian.
"There's a relationship that depends on the balance with the other positions. We've scored 11 goals and conceded four.
"I'm really satisfied with the defensive line. And the Japanese defence is probably the youngest in this competition."
Source: AFP Global Edition