SAMURAI BLUE’s Coach Moriyasu aims to “Showcase a match that helps us move forward” at KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2018【10/12＠Niigata vs Panama】
12 October 2018
On Thursday 11 October, Coach MORIYASU Hajime of the SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) appeared in an official press-conference at Denka Big Swan Stadium ahead of their match against the Panama National Team at the KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2018. With the team adding players who fought in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia the coach shared his aspiration to “Showcase a match that helps us move forward.”
The new squad features young players such as NAKAJIMA Shoya (Portimonense S.C.) and MINAMINO Takumi (FC Red Bull Salzburg) who excelled in the 3-0 victory against the Costa Rica National Team last month, which was the first match under the current regime, and those who played in the World Cup in Russia, such as OSAKO Yuya (Werder Bremen) and YOSHIDA Maya (Southampton FC). Team building is in process with the theme to create a “Team Fusion.”
The team has entered a short training camp in Niigata starting from Monday 8 October, where the players have been seen communicating with each other on and off the pitch as Coach Moriyasu mentioned, “The players are now sharing their experiences to stay on the same page.”
Regarding his selection to name Yoshida, who has marked 86 caps for the national team, as team captain, the Japanese head coach stated, “He has been communicating well with his peers to allow the group to function as a team.”
It will be the first time for Japan to face the Panama National Team, who made its first ever appearance at the World Cup in the recent tournament in Russia, where they lost to Belgium 0-3, England 1-6, and Tunisia 1-2. However, the team has newly appointed Coach Gary STEMPEL after the tournament, who described his team’s progress, “The young players has been stepping up and the team has shown great improvements.”
The travel squad for Panama features 15 players who participated in the recent World Cup including Aníbal GODOY who played in all three of their matches. For the Japanese side who has just started off to build their team ahead of January’s AFC Asia Cup, the Coach shared his aspiration, “They are a wonderful team to test our ability,” and continued by stating, “We will stay flexible to challenge our opponents.”
Both teams conducted their official training session at the match venue under the rain. The Japanese players were seen knocking the ball around in a relaxed atmosphere during the first 15 minutes where the session was open to the media. The team continued to go over their tactics in the remaining portion of their session.
Midfielder AOYAMA Toshihiro (Sanfrecce Hiroshima) alerted the high athleticism of the opponents but shared his strong intention for the match, “We will be playing at our home, so will not back down to fight for the ball. We will not be afraid, and we will not lose.” At 19 years of age, defender TOMIYASU Takehiro (Sint-Truidense V.V.) is the youngest among the squad. The youngster modestly shared his take, “If I’m given the opportunity, I will give my very best. My first goal is to keep a clean sheet.”
Veteran defender NAGATOMO Yuto (Galatasaray S.K.) will be returning to the team for the first time following the World Cup as he mentioned that he was inspired by the performance shown by the young players at the match against Costa Rica, as he spoke, “It allowed me to get back to the basics.” He continued on by sharing his aspiration, “I must work a lot more and be able to outrun these players. I hope to build a new version of the Japan National Team with these youngsters.”
The match is scheduled to kick-off at 19:35 on Friday 12 October at Denka Big Swan Stadium, Niigata.
Coach and Players' Comments
MORIYASU Hajime, Coach of SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team)
Panama has played in the recent World Cup and many of the players who played in the cup are featured in this travel squad. They are a very strong team and a wonderful team to test our ability. We must work as a team to eliminate their strong point while exploiting their weak point. But at the same time, I want my players to excel as an individual and showcase a match that helps us move forward as a team. The players have been communicating well with each other, on and off the pitch to share their experiences playing for the national team to place each other on the same page. They have been working extremely hard and showing great intention to understand what each training menu are intended for. There have been many discussions held on the field where the players spent time to keep each other on the same page to approach certain situations. I feel like the team has been making lots of positive progresses.
DF #5 NAGATOMO Yuto (Galatasaray S.K.)
After watching the young players play against Costa Rica with great courage and showed a new version of the national team, it allowed me to get back to the basics. It gave me a sense that I want to build a new version of the national team with these young players, which is something I’ve never felt before. The World Cup in Qatar is just a passing point for me. I have seen players who entered their prime after the age of 35, so I want to be a player like that. In that sense, I still have a long way to go.
DF #16 TOMIYASU Takehiro (Sint-Truidense V.V.)
I might get nervous in this match, but I was able to play with a good amount of nervousness in the season opener in Belgium. With the addition of the players who fought in the World Cup, it has allowed us to train under a tense atmosphere where we can’t take any small play for granted. In any given match, it is important to keep a clean sheet, so we will strive for that in this match.
MF #10 NAKAJIMA Shoya (Portimonense S.C.)
The players who participated in the World Cup has tremendous experience under their belt, so this short preparation period shouldn’t be that much of a problem. In our previous match, I managed to enjoy myself and it helped create an entertaining match for everyone who was watching the match, so, I will continue to perform with joy and give my best to lead the team to a victory at home.
MF #17 AOYAMA Toshihiro (Sanfrecce Hiroshima)
By adding those players who played in the World Cup, it has tensed up the team’s atmosphere and gave us a great amount of inspiration, as they represent the wall we must overcome. We must heighten our abilities during training sessions and earn results at the match. Panama consists players with great talent, especially their athleticism. We must find ways to fight against their height and power at the individual level and out perform them as a team. It’s important that we do well both as an individual and as a team, but the previous match should give us great confidence heading into this match.
FW #15 OSAKO Yuya (Werder Bremen)
We need to prepare ourselves ahead of the match against Panama to earn results. I don’t know how well we can work together with the young players, but we just need to keep on challenging ourselves in the game. Every player is very talented, so while we compete among each other, we will strive towards the Asia Cup. We shall not waste the remaining matches we have during this year and build a team that can earn positive results at the Asia Cup.
Gary STEMPEL, Coach (Panama National Team)
Japan consists with great experience and publicity, so this match will be a great challenge for us. But at the same time, it shall provide great experience for our players, not only for the players who experienced the World Cup, but for those young players as well. We are greatly affected by the time difference and the long travel, and the team has not been able to train with all the players. We are not in our best condition, but the Panamanians are tough people. We will work hard to show our best performance and leave a positive impression of the Panamanian football. By playing in the World Cup, it has raised the expectations within our country and gave us a priceless experience as a team.
Interview of NAGATOMO Yuto (Galatasaray S.K./Turkey)
Interview of NAKAJIMA Shoya (Portimonense S.C./Portugal)
Interview of OSAKO Yuya (Werder Bremen/Germany)
Friday, 12 October 2018 Kick Off at 19:35 (Estimated time)
Niigata／Denka Big Swan Stadium
SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) vs Panama National Team
Tuesday, 16 October 2018 Kick Off at 19:35 (Estimated time)
Saitama／Saitama Stadium 2002
SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) vs Uruguay National Team
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