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SAMURAI BLUE New Head Coach Nishino to display player's true ability, "demands results"

13 April 2018

SAMURAI BLUE New Head Coach Nishino to display player's true ability,

On Thursday 12 April, SAMURAI BLUE's (Japan National Team) new coach, NISHINO Akira appeared at the press conference held at JFA House in Tokyo. With just two months until the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, Coach Nishino spoke of his aspiration, “if the players can display their true abilities, the team will gain an extra edge. I will demand results from my players.”

The new skipper who succeeded the former coach Vahid HALILHODZIC, has coached the U-23 Japan National Team at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. His team went onto beat Brazil and won two of their group stage matches, but became the first team ever, not to qualify for the knock-out stage with such record. Coach Nishino has also managed J. League clubs such as Kashiwa Reysols and Gamba Osaka. He has been appointed as the Technical Director of the Japan Football Association (JFA) since March 2016.

In regards to the circumstance of his appointment, Coach Nishino shared his thoughts. “With the World Cup fast approaching, I am fully aware of the obligation and responsibility that comes with accepting this position as the head coach of the national team. I am committed to do whatever it takes to prepare the team ahead of the World Cup in Russia.”

When asked about the current situation of the team, he opened up by stating the following. “I do not think that the team is falling apart. The performance of each individual players has not reached their full potential yet.”

He went on to passionately describe his vision. “The national team is where players can truly excel and go beyond their performance at their own clubs. If the players can display their true abilities, it will trigger a positive chemical reaction, and the team will gain an extra edge. In order to make that happen, I must allow the players to reach their full potential. For the squad selection I will be calling up players with spirits that can make this all possible.”

When the World Cup in Russia raises its curtain on 14 June, Japan will be making its sixth World Cup appearance in six tournaments. Japan’s first match will be on the 19th when they face Colombia, followed by matches against Senegal and Poland on the 24th and 28th respectively.

“We want to advance through the group stage,” the new coach said. “The following two months will be a process of building a team with the belief that we can materialise that goal.”

SAMURAI BLUE’s first match under Coach Nishino will be against Ghana National Team at the KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2018 on Wednesday, 30 May (at Nissan Stadium, Kanagawa).

Coach Nishino revealed that the team selection will be based on the shortlist he helped creating for Coach Halilhodzic, while mentioning regarding the veteran players, “we will monitor their conditions for the next month and select the best possible team that can create the most chemical reaction.”

With his appointment, Coach Nishino has become the second Japanese coach to lead the Japan National Team since JFA Senior Advisor OKADA Takeshi, who led the team at the 1998 and 2010 World Cup.

SAMURAI BLUE will now have a new look in their coaching staffs as they welcome in Assistant Coach MORIYASU Hajime and Goalkeeper Coach SHIMODA Takashi from the U-21 Japan National Team, while Conditioning Coach OGAI Tomohiro joins from the U-19/U-16 Japan National Team. Assistant Coach TEGURAMORI Makoto, Conditioning Coach HAYAKAWA Naoki, and Goalkeeper Coach HAMANO Yukiya will remain in their positions to support Coach Nishino. Contracts of Assistant Coaches Jacky BONNEVAY, Cyril MOINE, and Goalkeeper Coach Enver LUGUSIC has been terminated.

SEKIZUKA Takashi, who led the U-23 Japan National Team at the 2012 London Summer Olympics was newly appointed as the Technical Director.

JFA President TASHIMA Kohzo appeared at the press conference alongside the new coach, and stated the following. “We will gather all of the wisdom accumulated within the Japanese football community and unite as one to support the Japan National Team heading into the World Cup.”


NISHINO Akira, Coach of SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team)
I have been appointed to succeed after Coach Halilhodzic as the head coach of the Japan national team. The original task assigned to me as the Technical Director was to support the national team coach, and I have been supporting the team and coach ever since I was appointed to the position two years ago. I am feeling an overwhelming amount of responsibility after accepting the position just before the World Cup in Russia. I will give the utmost effort ahead of the World Cup to prepare the team. Serving as the Technical Director, I have been away from coaching for the past two years, so I will prepare myself both physically and mentally to be able to coach. Then I will take on the task of team selection by observing the players and the Japanese football community as a whole.

I wanted to assemble a coaching staff consist with Japanese coaches who has been associated with the national team. Coach Moriyasu from the U-21 National Team is a coach who will be leading the younger generations along with Coach Teguramori. I have selected Goalkeeper Coaches and Medical Staffs with great experience. I believe that in football, we can make major changes when talented staffs brings in many ideas. It will give us multiple options, instead of biased ideology and intentions. We want to keep that in mind when looking at the players and the team.

Coach Halilhodzic had demanded the players with a very high standard, which comes from his own experience at the World Cup. What he demanded was precisely what Japanese football had lacked over the years, but I felt like the players were not capable of fulfilling his needs. I will continue to demand the essential aspects, but acknowledge and implement the Japanese style of football at the same time. The foundation of Japanese football lays on top of techniques, discipline, and dedication to play as a team. The ability to create chemical reaction is another strength. I strongly believe that there are lots more we can do within the Japanese DNA.

In order for the National Team to achieve greatness, I do not want to limit individuality, and I would like to evaluate each player’s performance at their own clubs. As much as individual efforts are important, I will be looking for players who can embody the Japanese style and strengths, which can be showcased through team efforts, combinations, and coordination works. I have been working together with the team for the past two years as the Technical Director. In many ways, I feel like I was in the same fight with the players. As a coach I would like to enhance that kind of sense moving forward.

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