Japan's Mitoma preparing to hit Germany on the counter in opener

Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Japan Training - Al Sadd SC Training Facilities 1, Doha, Qatar - November 20, 2022 Japan's Takefusa Kubo with teammates during training REUTERS/Issei Kato

DOHA, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Japan's Kaoru Mitoma believes Germany could be vulnerable to the counter-attack when they meet a Samurai Blue side stacked with pacy attacking talent in their World Cup opener on Wednesday.

The lively left winger is not underestimating the challenge that faces Japan against the four-times World Cup winners at Khalifa International Stadium but thinks they have a chance of making a winning start if they prepare well.

"Of course, Germany is (one of the) best teams in the world but they have weaknesses so we have to get ready to play against them. If we are together, we can win," he told reporters after training on Sunday.

"They put many players in front of the attacking space, so they have a weakness against the counter-attack, so we are preparing for this," he added.

Mitoma has enjoyed a meteoric rise this year, scoring two goals off the bench against Australia in March to seal Japan's ticket to Qatar before making a flying start to his career with Brighton and Hove Albion.

A late developer after spurning a professional contract to spend three years at university, Mitoma has earned comparisons to South Korea's Son Heung-min after some outstanding performances in the English Premier League.

"The Premier League is a high level, high intensity, and that helps me a lot," the 25-year-old added.

"After playing in the first XI, I felt a bit more confident. I've only played a few games so I need to play more games. It'll help me a lot to play against Germany, they're a very good team with good organisation."

Mitoma, who arrived late in Qatar after suffering a bout of illness, is by no means guaranteed a start against the Germans with fellow attackers Takumi Minamino, Daichi Kamada, Takefusa Kubo also in good form.

"We've got a good balance of young players and senior players," he said. "We have to be energetic and of course I will do my best."

Japan also face former champions Spain and Costa Rica in Group E on their seventh straight visit to the World Cup finals.

Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Pritha Sarkar

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.