17-year-old phenom Kubo selected to the Japan National Team as Coach Moriyasu strives to “Deepen strategical understanding” through the KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2019
24 May 2019
On Thursday 23 May, Coach MORIYASU Hajime of the SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) announced the squad for the KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2019 scheduled to take place next month. Among the 27 players, three players were named for the first time, including 17-year-old midfielder KUBO Takefusa (F.C. Tokyo). With the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers scheduled in September, Coach Moriyasu stated that he will be looking to deepen the strategical understandings among the team.
Besides Kubo, 19-year-old goalkeeper OSAKO Keisuke (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), and 22-year-old defender NAKAYAMA Yuta (PEC Zwolle) were also named to the team for the first time. With his selection, Kubo became the second youngest player ever to be selected to the Japan National Team, second only to ICHIKAWA Daisuke, who was selected when he was 17 years and 322 days old. The young midfielder has been a highly anticipated prospect coming out from the youth system of FC Barcelona. More recently, he has been playing as one of the key players of F.C. Tokyo to propel his side to the league lead with his goal scoring abilities.
Meanwhile, veteran players, OKAZAKI Shinji (Leicester City Football Club) and KAWASHIMA Eiji (RC Strasbourg) made their return to the team since last summer’s World Cup. Along with OSAKO Yuya (Werder Bremen), KAGAWA Shinji (Besiktas J.K.), and NAGATOMO Yuto (Galatasaray S.K.), who returned to the team since January’s AFC Asian Cup, the roster featured a total of 11 players who played in the World Cup in Russia. However, YOSHIDA Maya (Southampton F.C.) was not listed to this squad due to illness.
The likes of NAKAJIMA Shoya (Al Duhail SC), DOAN Ritsu (FC Groningen), MINAMINO Takumi (FC Red Bull Salzburg), and TOMIYASU Takehiro (Sint-Truidense V.V.), who propelled the team since Coach Moriyasu took the helm, were all named to the squad, while SUZUKI Musashi (Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo), HASHIMOTO Kento (F.C. Tokyo), and HATANAKA Shinnosuke (Yokohama F･Marinos) were called up for the second time, following the KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2019 held in March.
When asked about Kubo and Osako Keisuke, Coach Moriyasu mentioned, “Regardless of their age, they are showing great performances. They have truly earned their spot.” The coach continued by sharing his thoughts on Kubo, “He has been doing a stellar job to help his team win. I want him to gain a different experience to further develop as a player.”
Ever since taking over the team, Coach Moriyasu has stressed the importance to fusion different generations within the team, as the Japanese coach mentioned, “I want the veteran players who have supported the team over the years to share their experience to the team.” When asked about their opponents the coach stated, “They are strong teams who are preparing themselves for the Gold Cup, so they will come out with a strong intention to win. Through these two matches, we will strive to deepen the strategical understandings among the team and prepare ourselves ahead of the upcoming qualifiers for the World Cup.”
As the coach mentioned, the qualifiers for the World Cup Qatar 2022 will start to take place in September. FIFA announced on this day that the World Cup held in Qatar will remain as originally planned with a 32-team format. With the news, Coach Moriyasu shared that, “It is our mission to win through the competition in Asia to earn our spot into the World Cup.” The Japanese coach continued by stating, “Through each of our activities, we must build our team strengths and strive to win out of the qualifiers.”
Starting on Sunday 2 June, the SAMURAI BLUE will hold a training camp before they face the Trinidad and Tobago National Team on Wednesday 5 at Toyota Stadium, Aichi, followed by their match against the El Salvador National Team on Sunday 9 at Hitomebore Stadium Miyagi, Miyagi.
MORIYASU Hajime, Coach of SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team)
In this series of KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP, we will be facing very strong teams who are preparing for the CONCACAF Gold Cup. I would like to thank everyone who were involved for making this matchup possible. Through these two matches, we hope to deepen the strategical understandings among the team and get ourselves ready for the upcoming qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup. We must strengthen and heighten the team quality through the two tournaments (KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP and the Copa America). I have named 27 players, which includes players who I haven’t had the chance to take a look at before. With consideration for the next tournament, I have elected to call up more players than usual.
In regard to Kubo and Osako (Keisuke), regardless of their age, they are becoming a great presence at their affiliated clubs and they have truly earned their spots through their performances. Not to mention that they still have the potential to reach even higher levels. I want them to gain a unique experience with the Japan National Team and bring that back to their clubs to become a better player. Kubo is capable of breaking down the opposing defence with his creativity and change of pace. I want him to showcase the same brilliance he brings to his club at the national team level. However, he is not at the level where he exceeds the experienced players by miles, so I want him to learn from the veteran players and utilise the experience to further develop as a player.
As for Kawashima and Okazaki, I want them to pass down their experience to the younger players, on and off the pitch. Of course, their priority is to contribute to the team with their performances, but in order to help the team fusion the different generations, their presence will be an essential factor. I want the veteran players who have supported the team over the years to share their experience to the team and help us fusion the “Japan National Team” and the “Olympics National Team” into a united team.
SEKIZUKA Takashi, JFA Technical Director
We will be facing two teams from the CONCACAF, Trinidad and Tobago and El Salvador, who are preparing for the Gold Cup. We are also striving to strengthen the SAMURAI BLUE ahead of the World Cup qualifiers, so we hope to utilise these two matches to get ourselves ready. With the teams of Asia getting stronger and stronger over the recent years, we must also strive to reach higher standards. Higher competition in Asia will ultimately lead us to build stronger teams, so we hope to make forward progress one step at a time.
SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) vs Trinidad and Tobago National Team
Match Date: Wed. 5 June 2019 Kick-off time 19:30
Venue: Toyota Stadium, Aichi
SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) vs El Salvador National Team
Match Date: Sun. 9 June 2019 Kick-off 19:00
Venue: Hitomebore Stadium Miyagi, Miyagi
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