HOME > NEWS > SAMURAI BLUE resumes training ahead of Semi-Final match against Iran – AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 (1/5-2/1)


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SAMURAI BLUE resumes training ahead of Semi-Final match against Iran – AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 (1/5-2/1)

26 January 2019

SAMURAI BLUE resumes training ahead of Semi-Final match against Iran – AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 (1/5-2/1)

One day after their 1-0 victory over the Vietnam National Team at the quarterfinals of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019, the SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) held a training session on Friday 25 January in Dubai. The team is scheduled to face the Iran National Team at the semi-finals in three days.

While the players who started in the match against Vietnam, including DOAN Ritsu (FC Groningen), who scored the winning goal, remained at the hotel to recover from the match. The remaining players including the three substitutes who enter the match in the second half, OSAKO Yuya (Werder Bremen), INUI Takashi (Real Betis), and SHIOTANI Tsukasa (Al Ain FC) were all seen on the pitch working up a sweat.

After the players went through their warmup routines, the team conducted a 5 vs 5 passing game in a small grid with limited touches to go over their transitions from offence to defence. The players were then seen going over their attacking patterns by delivering crosses and initiating fast breaks from the defensive end.

During the 4 vs 4 drill, the players played with a free-man and limited touches where they showcased agile moves with great intensity.

The session concluded with the players getting divided into each position, where the players conducted individual trainings. Osako and Inui worked on their shots while having SCHMIDT Daniel (Vegalta Sendai) playing in goal. Shiotani and MUROYA Sei (F.C. Tokyo) repeatedly went over their place kicks, while ITO Junya (Kashiwa Reysol) and MIURA Genta (Gamba Osaka) were seen working on one-on-one drills. MAKINO Tomoaki (Urawa Red Diamonds), SASAKI Sho (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), and HIGASHIGUCHI Masaaki (Gamba Osaka) concluded the session with a light jog.

The team stayed in Dubai for this day, and they are scheduled to travel to their next match site, Al Ain, on the following morning.

The remaining fixtures of the quarterfinals concluded on this day, where Qatar defeated last tournament’s semi-finalists, Korea Republic 1-0 to advance to their first ever semi-finals. Led by the former Japan National Team Coach Alberto ZACCHERONI, the host nation, UAE, won over the defending champions, Australia 1-0. As a result, the other semi-final match (Tuesday 29, Abu Dhabi) will feature the UAE side who will seek for their first final appearance since 1996, and the 2022 FIFA World Cup host nation, Qatar.

Players' Comments

GK #23 SCHMIDT Daniel (Vegalta Sendai)
We have been facing very tough matches, as all of our matches have been decided by a single goal difference. It makes us realise how tough this tournament could be. I always keep in mind to help the team build a positive atmosphere, even when I am not playing on the pitch. We will face even stronger teams from here, so I will do my best to help the team out.

DF #2 MIURA Genta (Gamba Osaka)
In tournaments like this, what’s important is that we keep on winning. We have been playing many tough matches and we have conceded the opening goal in matches as well. However, the team has been able to win through these matches and managed to keep clean sheets in recent matches as well. I caught a glimpse of Iran’s match against China PR, and it seemed like they have quick players upfront, but China PR had plenty of chances to score, so I feel like we can exploit them. The strengths of the Japanese side are in our ability to play persistent. If we keep our patience and play with composure, the chances will come our way.

DF #5 NAGATOMO Yuto (Galatasaray S.K.)
Even when we enter the match with a strong intention to stay focused, we have moments where we lack concentration. I think that’s because we are fatigued. This tournament schedule presents us with great difficulties, but it has allowed us to become a tougher team.

DF #20 MAKINO Tomoaki (Urawa Red Diamonds)
I personally think that the training sessions held after the match is one of the most important trainings. It allows the reserve players to showcase their eagerness to play in the next match, and it also gives us the chance to stay on the same page. We must stay prepared so that we can play at any given moment. I have played against many players from the Iranian side and it will certainly be a tough match for us. The players who played in yesterday’s match must give their best to recovery their bodies, and the rest of us must prepare ourselves ahead of the next match.

MF #8 HARAGUCHI Genki (Hannover 96)
The way the match played out yesterday was somewhat expected. It certainly was not what we wished for, and after the first half, I felt like it was one of those matches where we can’t find ways to break down the opposing defence. We told each other to keep working hard so that the opponents will run out of gas. That was certainly the case in the second half, as we were able to find more spaces and grab the deciding goal to win the match. Following a two-day rest, our bodies weren’t as fresh as we wished for, but we managed to stay focused and play with great persistency. In the first half, I felt like the distance between the forwards and the midfielders were too far, so in the second half, I focused on heightening the quality of our combinations in closer range. That worked out in the scene where we scored the goal, as Doan did a great job to penetrate that space. Following that goal, we focused on keeping a clean sheet and manage the risks as much as possible.

MF #14 ITO Junya (Kashiwa Reysol)
I was watching the match against Vietnam while visualising what I would do differently if I was on the pitch. I have the impression that Iran is good at possessing the ball and they are strong in fifty-fifty situations. Regardless of who I face, I am confident that I can dribble passed anyone in one-on-one situations. I will challenge aggressively when I am given the opportunity.

FW #13 MUTO Yoshinori (Newcastle United)
I remember Iran being a very strong team when we last faced them, but they weren’t a team we couldn’t cope against. We hope to win the individual battles to advance through to the final. With their huge win against China PR, I believe Iran will enter the next match with great momentum, but I am confident that if we can give our very best, we can win the match. In the knockout stage, the first team to score a goal will earn great advantage. Our defence line is very solid, and as part of the attacking players, I hope to score goals to give our defenders a little break. I don’t think we can win against the next opponent by playing neat football, so we must get scrappy and win the match.


SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) Squad, Schedule


Tournament Dates: Sat. 5 January - Fri. 1 February 2019

Knockout Stage Semi-Finals:
Mon. 28 January Kick-off 23:00 (Japan Time)
vs Iran National Team

Broadcasting: Televised Live at TV Asahi Group
BS Broadcasting: Televised Live at NHKBS1

Tournament Information

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