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Coach Nishino to "Seek potential" in match against Paraguay

12 June 2018

Coach Nishino to

On Monday 11 June, one day prior to the international friendly match against Paraguay, Coach NISHINO Akira of SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) appeared in an official press conference at Tivoli Stadion in Innsbruck, Austria. In regard to their last preparation match ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, the coach shared his aspiration to “seek for potential in this test match.”

With their first World Cup match scheduled on Tuesday 19 June, this will be Japan’s last match before the team enters Russia.

Coach Nishino had mentioned earlier that he will utilise all 23 players in the match against Switzerland on Friday 8 June and this match against Paraguay. On this day, he reassured his previous statements by stating, “tomorrow I will like to test the players with less playing time thus far. Through these three matches, we will try new systems and experiment with various castings to seek for new potential at a high level.”

In their match against Switzerland, the coach mentioned that their collective defence was at an acceptable level, but also stated, “with the World Cup in mind, we must consolidate our mutual understandings on the details, such as how and when we want to apply the pressure.”

Ahead of their clash against a South American powerhouse, much like their World Cup opponent, Colombia, Coach Nishino hoped to “gain confidence that we can put up a fight in a tactical sense.”

Since Coach Nishino took the helm in April, the team has lost 0-2 against Ghana at Yokohama on Wednesday 30 May, followed by another 0-2 loss against Switzerland at Lugano, Switzerland. The team is in desperate need for a win to gain momentum ahead of their entrance to Russia.

The coach shared his expectation towards the team, “as a team representing a nation, we must strive to win each and every match. That is a given. We will continue stay eager in that regards.”

With the team finishing their recent two matches scoreless, the coach hoped to see some changes as he stated, “we lack numbers in the final third, as the team is overly consumed from playing defence. We need to make adjustments in order to gain more power in offence.”

INUI Takashi (Real Betis) shared his point of view as, “it will be important for us to defend offensively. We must not be too defensive.” Explaining that the team needs to initiate attacks from turnovers forced by the front line, “we need to increase the number of turnovers we force in our attacking third.”

OKAZAKI Shinji (Leicester City Football Club) spoke of his enthusiasm, “it is important for a national team to be capable of winning regardless of who plays on the pitch. I will like to express the joy of being selected and given the opportunity to play for the national team. I will like to score goals as well.”

Japan holds a head-to-head record of two wins four draws and two loses against Paraguay. The Paraguayan coach, Gustavo MORINIGO has played against Japan in the 2003 KIRIN CUP, while he also came to Japan as a member of the Paraguay National Team who participated in the 2002 World Cup.

After failing to qualify for the World Cup in Russia, the team has recently started its rejuvenation process, as they spoke of their aspiration to “win against Japan and get off to a good start.”

The international friendly match against Paraguay will be held on Tuesday 12 June, with a kick-off time of 15:00 local time. Following the match, the SAMURAI BLUE will enter Kazan on the next day, where they will be based during the World Cup.

Coaches' and Players' Comments

NISHINO Akira, Coach of SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team)
We have tried many things in our match against Ghana and Switzerland. We will like to continue to seek for potential in our last test match ahead of the World Cup. Through these three matches, we will try new systems and experiment with various castings to seek for new potential at a high level. I understand that there are ways to solidify a team by fixing the system and starting line-ups, but I have elected to test new systems and players that can possibly give us the best chance to win at the World Cup. Keeping in mind of all the possibilities, my approach is to construct the team by utilising as many players in these test matches before we face Colombia. We have very limited time, but we will conduct our final preparation once we enter Russia.

GK #12 HIGASHIGUCHI Masaaki (Gamba Osaka)
If we are in fact playing a different line-up from our last match, it is important for us to gain results. If we can win the match, it will raise the overall level of the entire team and possibly bring good vibes to the team. Regardless of who plays, it shouldn’t make much difference. As long as we can showcase our team efforts and how we want to perform, we should be able to enter the World Cup in good shape. In that aspect, there are so much responsibility and importance in this match.

FP #9 OKAZAKI Shinji (Leicester City Football Club)
I will like to contribute to the team by giving all I’ve got and give the team something to work on ahead of the match against Colombia. I also hope to be considered as an option for the match, so that I can help the team with my plays. The team currently does not have a firm grip on how to approach the World Cup, so we hope to gain a sense of certainty through this match.

FP #14 INUI Takashi (Real Betis)
We would like to display all the things we must do as a team in tomorrow’s match. I can sprint with no problem, so my injury is fine. We must focus more on our defence than offence. But we must not be too defensive. Instead we need to apply pressure from our front line to initiate attacks from turnovers. If we can force turnovers in our attacking third, we can create more goal scoring chances. In another words, if we can’t manage to do so, it will be a difficult match for us. We need to play defence offensively.

Gustavo MORINIGO, Coach of Paraguay National Team
We have taken a step forward towards the next World Cup and our team consist of young players with an average age of 25 years old. We would like to see how this team can cope with a Japanese team who is going to play in the World Cup. Even though Japan has lost their recent matches, they are still considered as one of the best teams in Asia, and we recognise them as a strong team. We would like to win the match tomorrow and get off to a good start as a new team.

  • OKAZAKI Shinji (Leicester City Football Club/England) Interview

  • HASEBE Makoto (Eintracht Frankfurt/Germany) Interview

  • YOSHIDA Maya (Southampton FC/England) Interview


Sun. 3 June PM Training
Mon. 4 June PM Training
Tue. 5 June PM Training
Wed. 6 June PM Training
Thu. 7 June PM Official Training
Fri. 8 June 0-2 International Friendly Match
vs Switzerland (Stadium Cornaredo)
Sat. 9 June PM Training
Sun. 10 June PM Training
Mon. 11 June PM Official Training
Tue. 12 June 15:05 International Friendly Match
vs Paraguay (Tivoli Stadion)
Wed. 13 June AM Training
Thu. 14 June PM Training
Fri. 15 June PM Training
Sat. 16 June PM Training
Sun. 17 June AM Training
Mon. 18 June PM Official Conference・Official Training
2018 FIFA World Cup Russia  
Tue. 19 June 15:00 1st Match vs Colombia (Mordovia Arena)
Wed. 20 June PM Training
Thu. 21 June PM Training
Fri. 22 June AM Training
Sat. 23 June PM Official Conference・Official Training
Sun. 24 June 20:00 2nd Match vs Senegal (Ekaterinburg Arena)
Mon. 25 June PM Training
Tue. 26 June AM Training
Wed. 27 June PM Official Conference・Official Training
Thu. 28 June 17:00 3rd Match vs  Poland (Volgograd Arena)

*Local Time
*The schedule is subject to change due to the team condition, the weather, etc.

2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

Tournament Dates: 14 June - 15 July 2018

Group stage
1st Match Tue. 19 June Kickoff at 15:00 vs Colombia National Team (Mordovia Arena)
(21:00 Japan time)
2nd Match Sun. 24 June Kickoff at 20:00 vs Senegal National Team (Ekaterinburg Arena)
(Mon. 25 June, 0:00 Japan time)
3rd Match Thu. 28 June Kickoff at 17:00 vs Poland National Team (Volgograd Arena)
(23:00 Japan time)

For more information

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