Coach Moriyasu of SAMURAI BLUE claims “Team is in best condition” ahead of first match – AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 (1/5-2/1)
09 January 2019
On Tuesday 8 January, one day ahead of their first match against Turkmenistan at the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019, the SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) conducted an official training session at the match venue at Abu Dhabi, while Coach MORIYASU Hajime appeared in the official press-conference where he stated, “The team is in best condition under the current circumstance.”
Since taking over the team last September, Coach Moriyasu has constructed a team with a mix of veteran and young players. Ahead of their first official tournament, the team has registered four wins and a draw in five matches played.
Coach Moriyasu shared his expectation towards the young players, “For those who has less experience, I want them to explore new possibilities and strive to step-up for higher standards.”
Since arriving to UAE, the team suffered injuries which saw two players departing the team. With additional players filling the vacancy, the team had their first training session with the full squad just tow days ago. Despite the tough circumstance, the Japanese head coach stated, “Each day, the players and staffs gave their very best. We were able to construct the best possible condition under the given circumstance.”
Following the press-conference, the team appeared in the official training session, where the first 15 minutes was opened to the media. The team was seen holding a brief meeting on the field before starting their warm-ups. The players stayed vocal and kept on encouraging each other to build a positive atmosphere ahead of the match. The remainder of the session was held behind closed doors where the team went through the team tactics.
Following the session, midfielder HARAGUCHI Genki (Hannover 96) shared his thoughts, “We have been able to put in quality sessions. I am confident that we can perform with a similar quality once we enter the match.”
While Japan will be seeking for their fifth Asian Cup title, Turkmenistan will be making their second tournament appearance, first since 2004. Turkmenistan has advanced through the qualifiers with a record of three wins, one draw, and two loses, in a group consisting Bahrain, Chinese Taipei, and Singapore. During the qualifiers, the team kept zero clean sheets and conceded 10 goals in six matches.
So far, the tournament has seen plenty of action and upsets, as the defending champions, Australia dropped their first match against Jordan, while India registered a huge win against Thailand. The Philippines came close to causing an upset as well, but Korea Republic prevailed in a close 1-0 victory. Following these results, Turkmen midfielder Ruslan MINGAZOW mentioned, “Japan is considered as one of the tournament favourites, but they have made many changes since the World Cup. In football, anything can happen.” Coach Yazguly HOJAGELDYYEW also showed his confidence ahead of the match against Japan, “Our team is highly motivated and well focused. We are fully prepared.”
Japan has ended their 2015 campaign at the quarterfinals, and defender YOSHIDA Maya (Southampton FC) shared his take on the tournament, “Four years ago, we suffered a huge disappointment. This time we will strive to improve through this tournament and win the title at the end. It is crucial to win the first match.”
The match between Japan National Team and Turkmenistan National Team will kick off at 15:00 (20:00 Japan time) on Wednesday 9 January at Al Nahyan Stadium.
Coaches and Players' Comments
MORIYASU Hajime, Coach of SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team)
We had to deal with players getting injured and we were limited with our training time, but we gave our very best within the given circumstance. Every team in this tournament has earned their spot, and no team can be taken for granted. That is why we must always be prepared to play through tough matches. It is important to respect our opponents while preparing ourselves to play to our full potential. For those who has less experience, I want them to explore new possibilities and strive to step-up for higher standards. Their developments will help push the overall level of Japanese football to a higher level.
DF #16 TOMIYASU Takehiro (Sint-Truidense V.V.)
We all now that the first match of the tournament is a crucial match, so we must stay focused and earn good results. My job is to initiate our attacks after forcing turnovers, so I hope to showcase my ability to force turnovers.
DF #22 YOSHIDA Maya (Southampton FC)
We are expected to win in Asia and fighting through such expectation gives us a different type of pressure from what we faced at the World Cup. But our goal is to win through that pressure and win the title. Another goal is to build the foundation for the new team, who will be competing at the World Cup qualifiers. These two goals will be a major factor for us moving forward. The Asian Cup is a stage where the new Japan National Team inherits the pride and responsibility passed on by the former Japan National Team members. In that sense, this is a tournament with significant meanings for us. Expectations can become pressure for the players, but we must become able to fight through those pressure in order to compete at the Asian qualifiers and the World Cup. It is also a necessary quality to proceed on the individual careers. For those young players, playing under such environment can help them become a better player and that can ultimately help the overall level of Japanese football to reach a higher level. I have always looked up to NARAZAKI Seigo and NAKAZAWA Yuji (who both retired). I have worn the same jersey number 22 and have been striving to become a worthy player. I would like to congratulate them for their long career and hope to work together to develop the Japanese football community in the future.
MF #17 AOYAMA Toshihiro (Sanfrecce Hiroshima)
We have many talented players upfront, so we just have to make sure to deliver the ball to them. It’s something we have been doing well in training sessions. When the opponents drop deep, we must surpass our opponents with techniques and time our runs to break through. In order to continue the tradition passed down by our predecessors, we must showcase the Japanese style at the Asian Cup and the World Cup. That is an important aspect we must keep in mind during this tournament.
MF #21 DOAN Ritsu (FC Groningen)
I want to win the title. I know it won’t be easy, but if we can win the tournament with an overwhelming style, we can heighten the status of the Japan National Team. We hope to earn a result that can make Japan the representative of Asia. By winning the title, I can heighten my personal value as well. I hope to showcase a performance and result that can persuade the Japanese people.
Yazguly HOJAGELDYYEW, Coach of Turkmenistan National Team
Japan has many players who plays for big clubs and they are well organised. They played very well at the World Cup as well. Japan is very strong, and this is not an easy group, but we are fully prepared. We believe that every team has a chance, and that includes ourselves as well.
AFC ASIAN CUP UAE 2019
Tournament Dates: Sat. 5 January - Fri. 1 February 2019
Wed. 9 January Kick-off 20:00 (Japan Time)
vs Turkmenistan National Team
Sun. 13 January Kick-off 22:30 (Japan Time)
vs Oman National Team
Thu. 17 January Kick-off 22:30 (Japan Time)
vs Uzbekistan National Team
Broadcasting: Televised Live at TV Asahi Group
BS Broadcasting: Televised Live at NHKBS1
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