SAMURAI BLUE's Head Coach MORIYASU Hajime signs contract extension to 2026 “We want to see a new view at the next World Cup”
29 December 2022
Japan Football Association (JFA) held an extraordinary meeting of the Technical Committee and the Board of Directors on Wednesday 28 December, and unanimously decided to renew the contract with SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) Head Coach MORIYASU Hajime until the FIFA World Cup 2026™. At a press conference held in Tokyo on the evening of this day, Coach Moriyasu expressed his determination, “We want to see a new view we haven't seen yet at the next World Cup.”
Aiming to reach the quarterfinals and beyond at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, which ran until 18 December, Japan topped Group E in the group stage with victories over Germany and Spain, two formidable countries that have won the tournament before. Although they lost to Croatia, the eventual third place finishers of this tournament, Japan managed to reach the round of 16 in back-to-back World Cup appearances.
With this being the first time for the Japan National Team to be led by the same head coach over consecutive World Cups, JFA President TASHIMA Kohzo explained the reasoning of their decision, “He has enhanced the reputation of Japanese football globally and had a good influence on Japanese society. We strongly believe that he is the most appropriate coach to lead us to the next level.”
JFA Technical Director SORIMACHI Yasuharu pointed out that “National team coaches have to produce results in a short span of time, but he has shown his ability to keep the players on the same page and unify the tactics within those constraints.” Regarding future team building, he requested that the team “focus on playing more active football.”
The selection process used to select the new head coach was also discussed by Technical Director Sorimachi. He disclosed that the choice was made following several deliberations at the National Teams Department and Technical Committee to select the final candidates, and that President Tashima, Vice President OKADA Takeshi, and Technical Director Sorimachi, finalised the decision at an extraordinary meeting of the Technical Committee and the Board of Directors on Wednesday 28 December.
Coach Moriyasu was with the team at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ as assistant coach to Head Coach NISHINO Akira. He took over as head coach in July after the tournament, winning 41, drawing 9 and losing 12 before their most recent match against Croatia at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™. During this period, he also led the U-24 Japan National Team to a fourth place finish at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.
Coach Moriyasu, who describes his job as Japan National Team head coach as “the happiest job in the world, where I can take on the world with the joy and pride of being Japanese,” said he was “very honoured” to continue as coach. “It is a sobering feeling when I think about the difficulties and responsibilities of our mission ahead," he said, while also expressing his strong enthusiasm, “We want to challenge with the belief that nothing is impossible for Japan and take on each battle with determination to see a new view that Japan has not yet seen before.”
Assistant coaches YOKOUCHI Akinobu and UENO Yusaku will be replaced by new coaches after the two had left the national team after the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ to take up coaching positions in the J.League.
Regarding the new coaches to be appointed, Coach Moriyasu says “we are still listing the candidates,” but hopes to “select a coach who has the desire to fight for Japan and who I can entrust the baton to in the future.”
The second regime under Coach Moriyasu will begin with the KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2023, scheduled to take place at Japan National Stadium on 23 March 2023. The team is also scheduled to compete in the second round of the Asian qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup 2026™ in November.
The FIFA World Cup 2026™ will be co-hosted by Canada, USA, and Mexico and the number of teams competing will be increased from 32 to 48.
MORIYASU Hajime, Head Coach of SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team)
First of all, I would like to thank everyone who has supported and fought with us. Thank you very much. Today, I have been reappointed by President Tashima as head coach of the Japan National Team for the FIFA World Cup 2026™. I am very honoured to be reappointed as head coach of the Japan National Team, but it also gives me a sobering feeling when I think about the difficulties and responsibilities of our mission ahead. We want to challenge with the belief that nothing is impossible for Japan and take on each battle with determination to see a new view that Japan has not yet seen before. We are grateful for the support we have received from everyone and will fulfil our responsibilities with the pride and joy of being Japanese.
The coming years will be more challenging than ever. We want to make the most of the history of Japanese football and ensure that we can continue to build on it ahead of the next World Cup. We also seek to raise the value of the players, Japanese football, and the sport by adjusting to the changing environment and continuing to face difficulties head-on. I don't think we can carry on as we have in the past. To perform well at the World Cup, we must brush up and take the appropriate steps. We would like to create an environment that encourages the improvement of all levels, including the identification and development of individual talents. We need to be able to seize the ball and control it, whether fast or slow, and dictate the pace of the game. We are hoping to bring in a former player, who is good at holding the ball and taking shots in the attacking third, as our assistant coach.
This World Cup included 19 players making their tournament debuts. The fact that I also served as head coach of the Olympic team under the “one team, two categories” format offered me a significant advantage, and I can now state that I have access to a considerably larger player pool when making decisions. The upcoming activities will be centred around the young players, starting with those who took part in the World Cup for the first time, but, as in the past, we'd like to consult with coaches of the under-category national teams, gather information from them, scout more players thoroughly, assemble the best team at the time, and ultimately assemble the strongest team.
The road ahead will undoubtedly be tough and steep. However, I am confident that we can overcome any challenges with the support of the J.League, the football family, fans, and the general public. I want to take on this challenge with the belief that nothing is impossible for Japan, so please give me your support and join me in this fight.
TASHIMA Kohzo, JFA President
I am pleased to inform that it was unanimously decided at the JFA extraordinary board meeting held today at 11am, that Coach Moriyasu will remain as the head coach of the SAMURAI BLUE. He has enhanced the reputation of Japanese football globally and had a good influence on Japanese society. We strongly believe that he is the most appropriate coach to lead us to the next level. The contract's duration is up until the following World Cup, and it is for an amount that is acceptable by international standards and for a national team coach who has guided Japan to the round of 16 and is striving to finish in the top eight or higher. I believe this will also help to improve the status of Japanese football coaches. We will work together to make sure that we fight the arduous trip together for the next three years and seven months.
SORIMACHI Yasuharu, JFA Technical Director
National team coaches have to produce results in a short span of time. They must put in a lot of effort to call up the players and required to play matches as soon as they are assembled. It is a very difficult task to take on, but Coach Moriyasu has shown his ability to keep the players on the same page and unify the tactics within those constraints. At the World Cup, the more we analysed Germany and Spain, the more we found out that they had a potent team. However, we were able to communicate with our players and be flexible with our tactics to get through the group stage in first place. What we have learned through the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ is that it is very important to develop and find new players. We must put the most effort into finding strikers, in particular. Unfortunately, we did not have many players who could make a difference in the attacking third. Against Germany and Spain, we were forced to play passive football, but I'm hopeful that we'll work even harder to improve our ability to play more active football. There are still things that are missing, but the coach himself is learning and growing in various areas, and we are counting on his development as well. I will keep doing everything I can to help the team succeed so that we can witness a new and improved version of the SAMURAI BLUE.
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