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JAPAN WILL TRIUMPH OVER ASIA, SAYS CAPTAIN AOKI

Shenzhen, April 13: A confident Japan captain Isao Aoki is looking to give Asia a taste of their own medicine when the teams clash in the Visa Dynasty Cup at Mission Hills Golf Club starting on Friday.

Aoki has lingering memories of the nine-point drubbing at the hands of Asia in the inaugural Ryder Cup-style showdown two years ago and the Japanese golf legend is trying to fire up his star-studded line-up to not only play for a win but to do it in style.

"Last time round, we lost by a lot of points. This week I'm looking forward to a big win. I have talked to all the players and we have the same goal which is to beat the Asian team. Our players are strong this year and I'm happy," said Aoki today.

Shingo Katayama, last year's Japan Tour number one, and world number 24 Shigeki Maruyama will spearhead the team and the late withdrawal of Toshimitsu Izawa because of a flu bug has not dampened Aoki's spirit.

Izawa could have been ready to tee up for Friday's Foursomes but Aoki did not want to take the chance and called up rising star Takuya Taniguchu, last year's Rookie of the Year in Japan, as his replacement.

"It is unfortunate for Izawa as he would have been a good partner for Shigeki as they won the World Cup together (in 2002). But this is a team event and our players know that this should not affect them," said Aoki, who was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame last year.

Aoki's counterpart Hsieh Min-nan is convinced that the Asian team, led by current Asian Tour number one Thongchai Jaidee and Chinese ace Zhang Lian-wei, will rise to the challenge once again. "We have the stars from various countries in the Asian Team. Two years ago, Japan underestimated our team but they have brought out their top players and they look very strong," said Hsieh.

Hsieh can count on some of his in-form players to deliver the points again. Thongchai and compatriot Thaworn Wiratchant won co-sanctioned events with Europe recently while Mardan Mamat, Singapore's first player in the Visa Dynasty Cup, qualified for the British Open last week.

Hsieh could opt for country allegiance when picking his line-up for Friday's Foursomes and Saturday's Fourball, a move which drove them to the convincing triumph in 2003. He has five Thai players, two Indians, two Chinese and one each from the Philippines, Singapore and Korea in his team.

"As our team consists of some of the best players from each country, it is a challenge to get them to gel as a team. We had a meeting this morning to talk about the pairings and I will respect their opinions and feelings. They play on the Asian Tour regularly and know each other well. This will influence our decision when the foursomes draw is made tomorrow," said Hsieh.

"We have a lot of experience in our team and the newcomers have all won titles in recent times. In 2003 we had a lot of success pairing the players up according to their nationalities but it may not necessarily be the same this week," said Hsieh.


There will be six foursomes (alternate shot) matches on Friday, six fourball matches on Saturday and 12 singles on Sunday. Asia need to win 12 points to retain the Visa Dynasty Cup.

Asian Team: Thongchai Jaidee (Tha), Thaworn Wiratchant (Tha), Boonchu Ruangkit (Tha), Angelo Que (Phi), Jyoti Randhawa (Ind), Mo Joong-kyung (Kor), Prayad Marksaeng (Tha), Mardan Mamat (Sin), Zhang Lian-wei (PRC), Liang Wen-chong (PRC), Thammanoon Srirot (Tha) and Amandeep Johl (Ind)

Japan team: Shingo Katayama, Katsumasa Miyamoto, Takashi Kamiyama, Hideki Kase, Keiichiro Fukabori, Tomohiro Kondo, Tetsuji Hiratsuka, Ryoken Kawagishi, Toru Suzuki, Hiroyuki Fujita, Shigeki Maruyama and Takuya Taniguchi.

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