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HOME > SAMURAI BLUE > International Friendly Match [11/17] TOP > NEWS > Coach Moriyasu of SAMURAI BLUE hopes to triumph in Doha with a team that can “exert individual strength as a group”


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Coach Moriyasu of SAMURAI BLUE hopes to triumph in Doha with a team that can “exert individual strength as a group”

02 November 2022

Coach Moriyasu of SAMURAI BLUE hopes to triumph in Doha with a team that can “exert individual strength as a group”

On Tuesday 1 November, Coach MORIYASU Hajime of the SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) appeared in a press conference to announce the squad for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ and shared his aspiration to “bring out the best of our individual strengths as a group to turn the ‘Agony of Doha’ into Jubilation of Doha.”

Ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, which will kick-off on 20 November, Japan, who are aiming to reach the quarterfinals for the first time in their seventh appearance, announced a squad that includes 19 of the 26 players competing in their first FIFA World Cup™. Excluding the overage players, the team consisted of 10 players of the Tokyo Olympics team from the previous year, whom coach Moriyasu guided to the semi-finals. The squad, which combines both young and veteran players, is the culmination of four years of team building.

The list of players making their first appearance in the World Cup includes KAMADA Daichi (Eintracht Frankfurt) and MORITA Hidemasa (Sporting CP), who have made their presence felt at the UEFA Champions League, as well as ITO Junya (Stade de Reims) and MITOMA Kaoru (Brighton & Hove Albion FC), all of whom have been showing great form this season.

DOAN Ritsu (SC Freiburg), MAEDA Daizen (Celtic FC), and KUBO Takefusa (Real Sociedad), the team’s youngest member at 21 years old, are among the players who made the squad from the team that competed in the Tokyo Olympics amid a demanding schedule in extremely hot conditions. SOMA Yuki (Nagoya Grampus), who also competed in the Olympics, helped Japan win its first championship in nine years while also taking home the MVP and top scorer awards at the EAFF E-1 Football Championship 2022 this summer.

The oldest member of the team is 39 years old KAWASHIMA Eiji (RC Strasbourg), who will be participating in the World Cup for the fourth time in a row along with NAGATOMO Yuto (FC Tokyo). Team captain YOSHIDA Maya (FC Schalke 04) and SAKAI Hiroki (Urawa Red Diamonds) will make their third consecutive appearance, while SHIBASAKI Gaku (CD Leganes) and ENDO Wataru (VfB Stuttgart), who played together at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™, have been selected for the second consecutive tournament. GONDA Shuichi (Shimizu S-Pulse) was also selected for the first time since the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™.

At the press conference held in Tokyo, coach Moriyasu mentioned, “The selection process was difficult, but we have selected the best players for the World Cup. We selected players who each have their own strong points, but also can fight together as a team. We have selected players who can exert their individual strength as a group.”

The coach stated that “We have added players with traits that can bring out the most of our strong points” and underlined his ambition to showcase the Japanese way on the world stage as the roster size was extended from 23 to 26 for this year's World Cup. He also explained why he selected so many World Cup rookies, saying that he did so in the expectation that “their passion to succeed in the World Cup will contribute to the overall success of the team.”

Players from the J.League will arrive in Qatar around 10 November to begin their training. Because the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ will take place during the middle of the European league season, players belonging to European clubs will join the team when their clubs' matches are over. On November 17, the team will compete in its final international friendly match against Canada at Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Japan's first group stage match in Group E will be against Germany on Wednesday 23 November. They will then face Costa Rica on Sunday 27 November and Spain on Thursday 1 December. The top two finishers in each group will advance to the knockout stage.

Regarding their goal of reaching the top eight and beyond, coach Moriyasu said, “It won't be easy with all the strong opponents, but I strongly believe that we can achieve it with the help of our supporters and the people of Japan. We intend to fight as one nation to compete on the world stage and rejoice together when we reach a new scenery. I want to turn the 'Agony of Doha' into Jubilation of Doha.”


MORIYASU Hajime, Head Coach of SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team)
There were many players who shown their talent, making the selection process very difficult. However, after extensive discussions with the coaching staff and consideration of past performances, we are sure that we have chosen the best players currently available to compete in the World Cup. We have examined our past activities, the players' current situation, and the overall outlook for the World Cup. We selected players who each have their own strong points, but also can fight together as a team and exert their individual strength as a group. With the roster size being increased to 26 players, we have added players with traits that can bring out the most of our strong points.

Although we believe that World Cup experience is crucial and the idea of competing with the assistance of experienced players was one of the main considerations, we made our choice in the hopes that those without experience would battle with the vigour and ambition necessary to prevail at the World Cup. We came to the conclusion that in order to be successful as a team in this long-term battle, we must value the potential of the young, inexperienced players who are still developing. The medical staff of each club, along with the trainers and trainers dispatched to each club to evaluate the players' ailments, provided us with the required information for the selection process for those who are currently side-lined due to injury.

In order to demonstrate the Japanese spirit to our supporters and the country, we will battle courageously until the very end at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™. We will prepare ourselves in the best way possible so that we can turn the 'Agony of Doha' into ‘Jubilation of Doha.’

We want to express our gratitude to everyone who has helped us with our activities over the years. I would like to express my respect and gratitude to the supporters, the people of Japan, the clubs that generously provided us with their players, the high schools and universities that cooperated with our team in training matches, and all the players who were willing to fight for Japan. I hope that these 26 players will fight with the pride and responsibility of the national team, bearing in mind the thoughts of the players who wish but cannot play in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, and all the support we have received over the years.

SORIMACHI Yasuharu, JFA Technical Director
This is the seventh time the SAMURAI BLUE will participate in the World Cup. But unfortunately, we have always ended up in a supporting role. This time, we hope to play a leading role in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ and achieve a top eight finish or better, so that we can gain a new perspective. The Corona pandemic has prevented the team from carrying out its activities as much as we would have liked, which has made the final qualifiers a very tough battle. Nevertheless, we are determined to display the strength we have built up over the years at the World Cup. As the leader of the SAMURAI BLUE team, I will take full responsibility from start to finish.

TASHIMA Kohzo, JFA President
Four years have passed since our loss to Belgium in the last 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™. Together with coach Moriyasu, we have built our team in search of a new scenery that we have not seen yet. I would like to thank coach Moriyasu for building a team to compete in the Olympics and successfully qualify for the World Cup, despite not being able to carry out as many activities as we wanted due to pandemic in the last two and a half years. I would like to thank all the players who have contributed to evolve the team to this level, and all the clubs, in Japan and around the world, who have trained these players every day, and all the coaches who have helped to develop these players from youth teams, through junior high school, high school, and university.

This time, we are in the same group as two-time World Cup champions Germany and Spain, and Costa Rica, who advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™, a height we have never reached before. None of these matches will be easy, but they are matches we have to win in order to see a new landscape. And considering “The JFA Declaration, 2005,” which states that we will win the World Cup by 2050, we should be delighted to be given this opportunity to play against these heavyweights on the world stage. Together with the team, JFA will work as one to advance through the group stage, and to reach the Round of 16, the quarterfinals, and beyond. We would want to express our gratitude to all the people who began playing football and helped us when the World Cup was still just a dream, as well as to our official partners, official suppliers, and supporting companies.

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