Coach Moriyasu of SAMURAI BLUE shares aspiration to “Fight with intensity to win the ball” against Iran – AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 (1/5-2/1)
28 January 2019
On Sunday 27 January, one day before their semi-final match against the Iran National Team at the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019, the SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) conducted an official training session at the match venue in Al Ain. Coach MORIYASU Hajime appeared in an official press-conference where he shared his aspiration towards the match, “The opponents are strong. I want my players to fight with intensity to win the ball.”
The official training session held at Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium started on 18:00 to match the game time for the following day. The session was closed to the media except for the first 15 minutes, as the team went over their tactics for the match against Iran.
On this day, defender MAKINO Tomoaki (Urawa Red Diamonds), who was absent from the training session the day before, was present on the field. During the first 15 minutes, the team was seen going through their warmup routines as the field players conducted passing drills, while the three goalkeepers went through catching drills from short distance.
In search for their fifth overall Asian Cup title, Japan has made it to their first semi-finals since 2011, by winning close matches throughout the tournament.
Coach Moriyasu shared his thoughts on the team, “We have won all of our matches with a one goal margin, and the players have shown their eagerness to win the matches whatever it takes. By winning each and every match, we have gradually stepped up as a team.”
On the other hand, Iran has advanced to the semi-finals in dominating fashion, where they have registered a total of 12 goals in five matches, while conceding zero goals. Their forward Sardar AZMOUN, who plays for the Russian side FC Rubin Kazan, scored a goal in the quarterfinals against China PR to increase his tally to four goals at this tournament.
Mehdi Taremi will not be available for the next match due to accumulated yellow cards, but the team constructed by Coach Carlos QUEIROZ, who took over the helm in 2011, will not be affected as much because of their great layers of players.
As Coach Moriyasu described their next opponent, “Iran is a very strong team,” the coach mentioned of his team’s approach, “We must fight with intensity to win the ball while we evade our opponent’s pressure and challenge to take control of the ball in offence.”
Defender YOSHIDA Maya (Southampton FC) shared his take on the match, “We must commit ourselves to run through the entire 90 minutes, or even more,” and continued by saying, “It will be a very physical match.” The Japanese team captain also mentioned, “We have struggled in our recent matches against Asian teams, so this change might be a positive aspect for us.”
Japan holds a record of five wins, five draws, and six losses against Iran, and in the most recent encounter, the two teams drew 1-1 in an international friendly match held at Tehran in October 2015.
Ahead of their toughest match of the tournament, HARAGUCHI Genki (Hannover 96) stated, “We must bring our best game to win the match,” and continued by mentioning, “The opponents can catch us off guard at any given moment, so we must stay focused at all times. A split second can determine the outcome of this match.”
The semi-final match between Japan and Iran will kick-off at 18:00 (23:00 Japan time) on Monday 28.
Coaches and Players' Comments
MORIYASU Hajime, Coach of SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team)
With three days rest following our match against Vietnam, the players are able to prepare themselves with great composure. We will give our best to enter the match in our best condition tomorrow. We are expecting a tough match against the top team in Asia. Their strengths are shown in the FIFA rankings and the results earned at this tournament. We will pay respect to our opponents and challenge them to earn the victory.
Football is a sport to compete for goals, but before scoring goals, we must compete for the ball. The players must fight with intensity to win the ball while evading the opponent’s pressure and challenge to take control of the ball in offence. They are a very strong opponent, so I want my players to understand the game flow and stay on the same page as a team. The question reminded me of the goal scored by MIURA Kazuyoshi against Iran at the 1992 tournament. We hope to reconstruct a match like that tomorrow.
We have won all of our matches with a one goal margin, and the players have shown their eagerness to win the matches whatever it takes, which is a very important aspect. Our players are doing their best to execute our game plans. I want them to keep on trying and play aggressively in our match against Iran tomorrow. There will be tough stretches during the match, but I want them to be patient and strive to win the match.
DF #19 SAKAI Hiroki (Olympique de Marseille)
I think it will be a very interesting match, and we will give our best to reach the final. In a tournament, winning the match is the most important thing. Our ultimate goal is to earn result in four years, so our team is still work in progress. However, by winning matches, we are gaining confidence, so this tournament has given us a great experience.
DF #22 YOSHIDA Maya (Southampton FC)
We must enter the match tomorrow as if it’s the final. A loss here will be no different from losing out in the group stage, so we must earn a win to advance to the final. We have been fighting with a total team effort thus far, so the match could be determined by the performance of the reserve players. It is important that we all prepare ourselves to the fullest ahead of the match.
MF #6 ENDO Wataru (Sint-Truidense V.V.)
The match against Iran will be a very difficult match for us, but our team has shown great persistency thus far, so we hope to continue on that trend. We know that we are going to face a very strong team, but we just have to focus on playing our game. There will be tough stretches and times where we can’t find our rhythm, but the players must stay flexible and do what’s right for the team. We were given three days to prepare for this match, so we are in good condition. I will continue to prepare myself so that I can give my best performance tomorrow.
MF #8 HARAGUCHI Genki (Hannover 96)
I am very much looking forward for the match tomorrow. The two teams are equally matched, so the extra step and the little details will determine the outcome. The eleven players and the reserve players must stay focused an all times. Iran is a powerful team, and their attacking third can be very critical. I think that the second goal will be the deciding goal. We must enter the match with the commitment to fight through the tough stretches and keep a strong mentality to win the match.
MF #10 INUI Takashi (Deportivo Alaves)
The opponents are strong, so we must be able to evade their pressure. I am sure that there will be holes in their defence, so we hope to exploit them when given the opportunity. I will give my best and I hope to become the x-factor in this match.
Carlos QUEIROZ, Coach of Iran National Team
Japan has many talented players and they are capable of showcasing great football. They have shown their strengths in Asia for a long period of time. We hope to adjust against their quick decision makings and speed, which are their strong points. We also have many talented players, who we trust and have confidence in. What’s important is to keep in mind of our own identity as we play the match. It took us a long time to reach this far, and we are very proud of our feat. We hope to enjoy the match and showcase an entertaining football.
AFC ASIAN CUP UAE 2019
Tournament Dates: Sat. 5 January - Fri. 1 February 2019
Knockout Stage Semi-Finals:
Mon. 28 January Kick-off 23:00 (Japan Time)
vs Iran National Team
Broadcasting: Televised Live at TV Asahi Group
BS Broadcasting: Televised Live at NHKBS1
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