Players of the J.League arrive in Doha ahead of the rest of the squad to hold first training session for SAMURAI BLUE
12 November 2022
On Friday 11 November, the SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team), who will participate in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, held their first training session in Doha.
Seeking to make their first top eight finish or better in their seventh consecutive appearance in the World Cup, the team started their training at their base camp in Doha with seven players from the J.League reporting to the session following the completion of their season.
At this training session, MACHINO Shuto (Shonan Bellmare), the latest player added to the team to replace the injured NAKAYAMA Yuta (Huddersfield Town AFC), was present on the pitch.
The session started with the players going through their warmup routines before heading into ball possession drills, where goalkeeper GONDA Shuichi (Shimizu S-Pulse) also took part. NAGATOMO Yuto (FC Tokyo) showed great enthusiasm to fire up his teammates and the media members, as the veteran defender who will be entering his fourth World Cup was heard shouting, “Come on! It’s the World Cup!”
Another veteran defender, SAKAI Hiroki (Urawa Red Diamonds), was also seen on the pitch after arriving in Qatar in the morning, as the fullback trained with the team for the first half of the session to work up a sweat.
As the session progressed, the team conducted passing, controlling, and build-up drills, using half of the pitch with Gonda defending the goal. TANIGUCHI Shogo (Kawasaki Frontale) was seen waring a facemask after sustaining an injury in the most recent J.League match but managed to finish the entire session without an issue.
Following the team session, YAMANE Miki (Kawasaki Frontale), Machino, and Gonda worked on their long balls, while SOMA Yuki (Nagoya Grampus) and Nagatomo were seen taking a jog to condition themselves, as Soma later commented, “I really wanted to move my body around, so it felt great. I can tell that my condition is getting better and better.”
From Saturday 12 November, players playing for clubs abroad will join the team in turn, and on Thursday, the team will play their last international friendly before the tournament against Canada in Dubai.
The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ kicks off on Sunday 20 November, with 32 teams competing in a hotly contested tournament until the final on Sunday 18 December. Japan will face Germany on Wednesday 23 November, Costa Rica on Sunday 27 November and Spain on Thursday 1 December in Group E.
FP #5 NAGATOMO Yuto (FC Tokyo)
When I found out I made the squad, I felt a sense of tension, but now that I'm in Qatar, that feeling is intensifying. We need the support of our media to unite the strength of our nation as we face the tournament favourites. I want to make everyone fired up. Everyone has a busy schedule with their clubs right now, especially those taking part in the UEFA Champions League and Europa League, and more players are getting injured as a result. This is a very tough tournament, but all teams are playing under the same circumstance, so we cannot use that as an excuse. I am accustomed to getting ready on short notice and am ready to contribute to the team's success. I'm excited to compete against some of the best players in the world.
FP #19 SAKAI Hiroki (Urawa Red Diamonds)
Team training has begun, but since we don't have a full squad yet, I'm just concentrating on what I need to get done right now. Although the hybrid turf has a slightly different feel, we just have to get used to it. I knew they had to keep an eye on my workload, but I still wanted to train the entire session with the team. Every team has a limited amount of time to prepare, so we must use that to our advantage. We just need to be prepared to take advantage of those opportunities, in case our opponents aren't fully prepared, which could lead to some major upsets. I'll need to consult with my coach and teammates if I'm asked to play as a left side-back to make sure what my responsibilities are.
FP #20 MACHINO Shuto (Shonan Bellmare)
It wasn’t as hot as I anticipated. I cannot wait until the entire team trains together, but I think I need some time to adjust to the team first. (Having scored multiple goals at the end of the season) I feel like I am in great form right now, so I hope I can demonstrate that in the matches. My goal is to score at least three goals in this tournament. It's a pretty big goal, but I want to apply pressure to myself by putting it in words. Of course, there is a lot of pressure when playing for your country, but since I am a new player, all I can do is give it my all and try to perform as well as I usually do. I'm excited about the possibilities because I think one goal, or one play can change my position. I have overcome many obstacles as a professional footballer, and I am confident in my ability to fight through adversities, so I am looking forward to the challenge.
FP #24 SOMA Yuki (Nagoya Grampus)
I really wanted to move my body, so it felt great. My biggest weapon is my physicality, and Nagatomo is a player who has fought against the best in the world with his physicality, so I am trying to learn as much from him as I can. I have played as a left full-back in the past, and I am confident in my ability to win defensive duels, so I am willing to take on the position if I am asked for it. I will try to prepare myself by visualising my tasks. Although I haven’t been able to score or assist many goals this season, I think I have managed to get better defensively. I think I can make a lot of people happy if I score in the World Cup, and I want to contribute to the team’s victory. A goal in the World Cup can be a life changing event, so I am keen to make something happen.
International Friendly Match
Date: Thu. 17 November 2022, 17:40 (22:40 Japan time)
Fixture: SAMURAI BLUE vs Canada National Team
Venue: Al-Maktoum Stadium (United Arab Emirates)
FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™
Tournament Dates: Sun. 20 November - Sun. 18 December 2022
1st Match: Wed. 23 November 16:00 [Local Time] vs Germany National Team
2nd Match: Sun. 27 November 13:00 [Local Time] vs Costa Rica National Team
3rd Match: Thu. 1 December 22:00 [Local Time] vs Spain National Team
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