SAMURAI BLUE’s Coach Moriyasu, “Ideal opponent to test our current strengths” regarding their match against Uruguay at KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2018
16 October 2018
On Monday 15 October, Coach MORIYASU Hajime of the SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) appeared in an official press-conference held at Saitama Stadium 2002 ahead of their match against the Uruguay National Team in the KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2018. The coach shared his thoughts on facing a powerhouse who’s ranked fifth in the FIFA rankings, “They are an ideal opponent to test our current strengths. I want my players to fight with a perspective that they are facing an equivalent opponent.”
Under the new regime, the SAMURAI BLUE has registered two consecutive shutout victories with a score of 3-0 against both the Costa Rica and Panama, and now they will be facing a Uruguayan side who has participated in 13 FIFA World Cups. As shown in the recent World Cup held in Russia, where the team advanced to the quarterfinals, Uruguay is known for their deadly counter attacks initiated from their solid defence. The travel squad who arrived in Japan includes 16 of the recent World Cup members including their ace Edinson CAVANI (Paris Saint-Germain).
Meanwhile, Japan is in the process to fusion the young players and the players who fought in the recent World Cup. As Coach Moriyasu has mentioned, “We want to utilise as many players as possible in these two matches,” suggesting that there will be a major change in their starting line-up from the Panama match played four days ago. Perhaps, players who weren’t involved in the previous match, such as YOSHIDA Maya (Southampton FC), NAGATOMO Yuto (Galatasaray S.K.) and NAKAJIMA Shoya (Portimonense S.C.) may get their turn to play on the pitch.
When asked about the Uruguay National Team, Coach Moriyasu stated, “They are a very experienced team. The core of the team who fought in the World Cup remains the same, meaning that their maturity level and degree of perfection will be even higher. They will present us with a great level of challenge.” While staying alerted against their opponents, the coach also shared his aspiration with their goal of reaching the quarterfinals at the World Cup in mind, “I believe we can do it too. I want my players to fight with a perspective that they are facing an equivalent opponent. They are an ideal opponent to test our current strengths.” Regarding the match, the coach demanded his team to “Enter the match with a strong intention to keep a clean sheet,” and to seek for improvements in the overall level of the team by “Deepening their mutual understandings of the strategies and combinations while staying vocal throughout the match. I want the players to pursue their individual roles without hesitation.”
On this day, the team conducted an official training session behind closed doors, where the first 15 minutes were open to the media. The players were seen warming up as they jogged around and stretched their bodies. The field players were then divided into two groups and conducted ball possession drills where ITO Junya (Kashiwa Reysol) was seen joining the team after he was seen training on a separate menu the day before. Once the session went behind closed doors, the team went through their tactics ahead of their match.
Uruguay also held an official training session on this day, as their session was also conducted behind closed doors except for the opening 15 minutes. While the session was open to the media, the team was seen going through passing drills to work up a sweat.
Despite their 1-2 loss to the Korea Republic National Team on Friday 12 October, Coach Oscar TABAREZ didn’t seem to worry about the result, “Our ultimate goal is to put up good results at the 2022 World Cup at Qatar. At this stage, we are not seeking for results, but rather testing the young players.” The coach continued by stating, “The conditions of the players have gotten better. We hope to showcase a great match tomorrow.”
Many players from the Japanese side has mentioned that they were looking forward to facing a powerhouse like Uruguay, as MINAMINO Takumi (FC Red Bull Salzburg) shared his take, “They are very strong in terms of both individual and team level. We must seek what we can do against such team. I will initiate the action at all times and simulate the space surrounding me.” The team captain, Yoshida also mentioned, “Our patience maybe tested for a long stint of this match, but with the World Cup in mind, we must be able to put up an equal fight against teams like this. We hope to showcase a high-quality football match.” The captain continued by speaking of the young players of the team, “They are very talented. I want them to prove that against these strong opponents.”
The KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2018 match against the Uruguay National Team will kick-off at 19:35 on Tuesday 16 October at Saitama Stadium 2002.
Coaches and Players' Comments
MORIYASU Hajime, Coach of SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team)
Following the two matches played at the KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP, we will like to stay eager to earn a victory while presenting a good performance. With Uruguay making it to the quarterfinals at the recent World Cup, they will present us with a different challenge compared to the previous two matches against Panama and Costa Rica. We must be prepared to face a very tough match, but at the same time they are an ideal opponent to test our current strengths. If we are striving to make the top eight at the World Cup, we must be able to put up an equal fight and win against them. I want my players to keep that in mind when they go out on the pitch. Uruguay is capable of exploiting and capitalising on their opponent’s mistakes. I told my players to enter the match with great caution and to attack with the intention to finish up their plays with a shot at the goal. The players have shown great combinations in their attacks thus far, so I hope we can improve on what we’ve got moving forward.
DF #2 MIURA Genta (Gamba Osaka)
This is a rare opportunity to face such strong team. They are a very high-level opponents, but I hope to give my very best while enjoying the game. I will stay aggressive and keep a close range between my target. We will continue to communicate with everyone including the ex-World Cup players.
DF #22 YOSHIDA Maya (Southampton FC)
Our patience maybe tested for a long stint of the match, but during this training camp, we have been working on moving the ball around with a great tempo, so we hope to showcase that in our build ups to initiate our attacks in good form. In order for us to do so, we must work hard to apply pressure from the front line to force turnovers at a high position. Once we force the turnovers, we must make a quick transition and send quality feed upfront. During this process, the defenders must keep in mind to stay compact. We will be facing a tough opponent, but I am looking forward to facing wonderful players like Cavani.
MF #6 ENDO Wataru (Sint-Truidense V.V.)
I am happy to return to Saitama Stadium. I have been playing as a defensive midfielder as of late, so my sense on the field is getting much better. We will be facing a very strong team, but I will work hard and create more opportunities upfront while contributing to our defence at the same time.
MF #9 MINAMINO Takumi (FC Red Bull Salzburg)
Uruguay consists with very high-level players at every position, so we must be able to showcase performances and combinations with much higher quality. I am not a big player, so I must keep in mind to receive the ball in space rather than to receive it to my feet. I will stay eager to earn results while helping out my teammates so that I can gain the trust from my team.
Oscar TABAREZ, Coach (Uruguay National Team)
I have seen with my own eyes just how much the Japanese football has improved over the years. They have developed into a team who has appeared in six consecutive World Cups and their forwards consists with great speed, techniques, and the ability to strike shots. They have showcased an epic match against Belgium at the recent World Cup, and it has proved that Japan now has a wonderful base to build on. This match provides us with a great opportunity to prepare ourselves ahead of the 2019 Copa America and the 2022 World Cup. We hope to showcase a wonderful match.
Interview of YOSHIDA Maya (Southampton FC/England)
Interview of ENDO Wataru (Sint-Truidense V.V./Belgium)
Interview of MINAMINO Takumi (FC Red Bull Salzburg/Austria)
Interview of ITO Junya (Kashiwa Reysol)
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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