Coach Moriyasu and the SAMURAI BLUE to “Fight with a challenger’s spirit” at the KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2019
05 June 2019
On Tuesday 4 June, with the KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2019 match against the Trinidad and Tobago National Team scheduled on the following day, the SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) held their official training session at the match venue, Toyota Stadium in Aichi prefecture. Also, on this day, Coach MORIYASU Hajime appeared in the official press conference and stated that the team will “Enter the match with a challenger’s spirit.”
At the beginning of the training session, the players were seen going through their warmup routines, followed by ball possession drills conducted by the field players while the goalkeepers went through variations of saving drills. The session went behind closed doors after the initial 15 minutes, as the team went through their tactics ahead of the match.
This match against the Trinidad and Tobago National Team and the upcoming match against the El Salvador National Team (Sunday 9 at Miyagi), will both serve as a crucial opportunity to prepare the team ahead of the Asian qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup, which will start in September.
During the press conference, Coach Moriyasu mentioned, “In order to monitor the growth of our players and the entire team, we need to enter the match with a challenger’s spirit. The coach stated that the starting line-up is not set in stone yet, but hinted, “I’m preparing to lay out the foundation with the players I am familiar with.”
When asked about the young players on the roster, such as KUBO Takefusa (F.C. Tokyo), who turned 18 on this day, and 19-year-old OSAKO Keisuke (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Coach Moriyasu shared his thoughts, “We have Copa America scheduled ahead of us, so I want the young players to learn from the veterans at this KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP and make the most of the experience for the future events.”
The only time Japan faced Trinidad and Tobago was in August 2006, where Japan won 2-0 at a match played in the KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP. Trinidad and Tobago is currently ranked 93rd in the FIFA rankings (Japan is in 26th), but they have finished as the runners-up and in third place at the CONCACAF Gold Cup in the past, and they advanced to the top eight in both 2013 and 2015 as well.
The team is led by Coach Dennis LAWRENCE, a former player of the Trinidad and Tobago National Team, who has played in the FIFA World Cup in 2006 and also has coaching experience in England. With the team currently preparing for the upcoming Gold Cup, Coach Lawrence stated, “We brought the players who will be attending the Gold Cup. This will be a test for the tournament, and we hope to take back something positive.”
Japanese defender SHOJI Gen (Toulouse Football Club) shared his take on the match, “I am hearing that our opponent likes to construct their plays by passing the ball. They are a strong opponent for sure. This is going to be a very important KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP ahead of the World Cup qualifiers. We need to start making a habit of winning matches.”
The match between the SAMURAI BLUE and the Trinidad and Tobago National Team will kick-off at 19:30 on Wednesday 5 June at Toyota Stadium.
Coaches and Players' Comments
MORIYASU Hajime, Coach of SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team)
Tomorrow’s KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP match against the Trinidad and Tobago National Team is going to be a very important training match for Japan. I want our team to enter the match with a challenger’s spirit, so that I can see improvements at both the individual and the team level. We must take one match at a time and prepare ourselves in the best way possible ahead of tomorrow’s match. The starting line-up is not set in stone yet, but I am preparing to lay out the foundation with the players I am familiar with. We have Copa America scheduled ahead of us, so I want the young players to learn from the veterans at this KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP and make the most of the experience for the future events.
GK #28 OSAKO Keisuke (Sanfrecce Hiroshima)
It is very inspiring to train with players with lots of experience and I am having a great time. I would like to learn as much as possible from the other three players while showcasing my character to stimulate the training sessions. My strengths are in my ability to stop shots and catch the ball in the air, so I hope to showcase a good performance to prove that I belong here.
DF #3 SHOJI Gen (Toulouse Football Club)
After losing our match in March, we must enter this match with an even stronger intention to win the match. As a defender, I will try to organise the team from behind. Although we are missing Yoshida, it is important that the remaining players stick together to execute the style of football our coach is trying to showcase.
DF #19 SAKAI Hiroki (Olympique de Marseille)
With this being an international friendly match, we must not forget to challenge ourselves, and in a positive sense, make as many mistakes as possible. We won’t be needing any passive plays in a friendly match, so I will give my utmost efforts to showcase my best performance tomorrow.
MF #7 SHIBASAKI Gaku (Getafe C.F.)
We have done a great job on building this team to where it is now, so I don’t think it’s necessary to spend much time going over how we want to play the game. We have spent our time to deepen our understandings on the team strategies and what our coach wants us to do, so it is important that we continue to build on that foundation to enter the World Cup qualifiers with confidence. There will be more new players joining the national team, and the team must implement those new talents to strive for a higher level. I will do my best to make the adjustments with the new players and build a positive relationship with them as an individual.
MF #9 MINAMINO Takumi (FC Red Bull Salzburg)
With the World Cup qualifiers scheduled around the corner, the coach must be in the process of selecting the squad, so as a player, these two matches are going to be crucial matches. I hope to showcase a good performance to make a case for myself. At the same time, the team has been in good form lately, so I hope to do my best to help out the team and lead our side to victory.
MF #27 KUBO Takefusa (F.C. Tokyo)
I got nervous when we first gathered as a team, but not so much after we got on the pitch. This is the senior team, so the players are very talented, and the level of plays were also at a high level. During our scrimmage, I saw many interesting plays that left me in awe, so I am having a lot of fun. The speed of play is very fast, and I am constantly getting inspiration from the training session. I feel like I have been able to make use of the experience I have gained in the past year. I will give my very best efforts, if I am given the opportunity to play. I feel lucky to have my birthday at a place like this. Even if you play in matches at the age of 18, it doesn’t mean you are guaranteed to play when you are 22 or 23. I will stay patient while seeking to earn results. Regardless of how old I am now I will continue to do what I desire to do.
Dennis LAWRENCE, Coach of Trinidad and Tobago National Team
This is going to be a great test match ahead of the Gold Cup. Japan is a skilful team with great aggression and high-quality players. It is important that we match their aggression to fight for the ball and keep possession of the ball even under pressure. It is also important that we stay organised in defence as well. We are still work in progress to build this team, but we hope to control the game through our ball possession in tomorrow’s match.
Interview of OSAKO Keisuke (Sanfrecce Hiroshima)
Interview of MINAMINO Takumi (FC Red Bull Salzburg/Austria)
Interview of KUBO Takefusa (F.C. Tokyo)
SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) vs Trinidad and Tobago National Team
Match Date: Wed. 5 June 2019 Kick-off time 19:30
Venue: Toyota Stadium, Aichi
SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) vs El Salvador National Team
Match Date: Sun. 9 June 2019 Kick-off 19:00
Venue: Hitomebore Stadium Miyagi, Miyagi
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