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Ozaki wants fighting spirit from strong Asian Royal Trophy line up

Asia captain Naomichi "Joe" Ozaki is out for revenge at this week's Royal Trophy and has urged his players to show aggression and fighting spirit to topple holders Europe for the first time.

Ozaki, whose side were thrashed by Europe in the last edition, said he had learned from the mistakes of Asia's hefty defeat and had picked a strong team capable of winning the matchplay event.

"I want revenge. I don't want to think about losing - I want to win badly this time," Ozaki told Reuters in an interview.

"I want my players to show strength... to play aggressive shots and show fighting spirit," he added.

Ozaki has picked his strongest side yet, including former Asian Tour champions Liang Wenchong and Thongchai Jaidee, U.S. PGA Tour player Charlie Wi, Japan Tour champion Toru Taniguchi and Ryo Ishikawa, Japan's youngest "million dollar man".

Ozaki admitted he was close to quitting after the crushing 12 ½ to 3 ½ defeat on his debut as captain in 2007 but said he had changed his entire approach this time around.

"Two years ago I wanted a nice atmosphere in the team that could lead Asia to win," said the 52 year old, who has won 32 titles on the Japan Tour.

"When we lost, I was so disappointed with the result and the players too. We didn't expect to lose like that.

"This time I'm going to focus only on the competition. The team needs to play better and we believe that if we focus, we can win."

Although Europe have picked a weaker side than the previous two editions, Ozaki said Asia would not underestimate a team eager to make amends for last year's Ryder Cup defeat by the United States, their first since 1999.

"They're still a strong team," he added. "They have quality players and they're very good at matchplay, with youth and experience."

He believes an Asian victory is important for morale and to show how far the continent had moved in the sport.

"We want to be contenders but we have to prove our quality," he said.

"The Royal Trophy is growing but our players have to show they can compete with these (top) players."

The competition starts on Friday at the Amata Springs Country Club and features foursomes, fourballs and singles contests.

January 7, 2009

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