Coach Moriyasu of SAMURAI BLUE shows confidence in players’ performance ahead of Tournament Final against Qatar – AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 (1/5-2/1)
01 February 2019
On Thursday 31 January, one day before the final against Qatar National Team at the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019, Coach MORIYASU Hajime of the SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) appeared in an official press-conference at the match venue, Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi. The Japanese coach shared his confidence towards his players, as he stated, “I want my players to showcase everything we have worked on at the final stage.”
At the final, Japan will be seeking for their fifth overall Asian Cup title, while Qatar is coming off a six-game winning streak with 16 goals scored and zero goals conceded. The highly anticipated match attracted many reporters from various countries to fill up the press-conference, but Coach Moriyasu and team captain YOSHIDA Maya (Southampton FC) showed their usual composure at the podium and stated that they will enter the match in the same way they always do.
Coach Moriyasu started off by saying, “Qatar is a very strong team. We know that they have scored 16 goals while conceding zero goals. However, regardless of who we face, our players will continue to pay respect to our opponents, analyse them, and give their very best on the pitch.”
The Japanese head coach continued by sharing his confidence towards his players, “We have improved through each and every match we’ve played to reach this final. I want my players to showcase everything we have worked on at the final stage.”
As a player, Coach Moriyasu has experienced winning the Asian Cup at the 1992 tournament held in Hiroshima. Despite being suspended for the final, he has contributed to the team’s advancement to the final. If Japan wins the title this year, he will become the first individual to earn the title as both a player and a coach.
However, when asked about the potential individual feat, the Coach Moriyasu stated, “I am not interested. We will strive to win the title as a team.”
While Japan is ranked 50th in the FIFA rankings, Qatar currently sits at 93rd. Their forward Almoez ALI has scored eight goals to lead the tournament. The team will be without Ahmed FATEHI at the final due to an injury, but both Abdulaziz HATEM and Bassam HISHAM will be back from their accumulative yellow-card suspension.
Qatar’s Coach Felix Sanchez, who has been deeply involved with the players from the youth categories, shared his confidence ahead of his side’s first ever final appearance, “We can fight with 23 players, which will give us more options during the match.”
Yoshida’s words were applauded by the attendance, including the foreign media, as he mentioned, “We are representing Asia. In tomorrow’s match, we hope to showcase to the world a well-played match with both sides giving their best efforts and fair-play. If we can do that, I believe that it will push up the overall level of Asian Football to a higher level.”
In the evening, the team held a training session at a field in Abu Dhabi. With both sides already playing a match at the match venue during the group stage, there were no official training session held at the stadium.
During the session, the Japanese players were seen going over their warmup routines during the first 15 minutes where the session was opened to the media. Once the session was held behind closed doors, the team went through their tactics ahead of the match. Midfielder ENDO Wataru (Sint-Truidense V.V.) was not present on the filed as he remained at the hotel.
Midfielder HARAGUCHI Genki (Hannover 96) shared his take on the big match, “Ever since losing at the World Cup, I have thought that we must be at the top in Asia. We must make a new start by winning this title.”
The final is scheduled to kick-off at 18:00 (23:00 Japan time) on Friday 1 February.
Coaches and Players' Comments
MORIYASU Hajime, Coach of SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team)
Tomorrow’s final against Qatar will be a very tough match. We have played six matches thus far and Qatar is a very strong team, so we need to make one final push and prepare ourselves to allow our players to give their best performance. Over the matches we’ve played, the players have been able to read the game flow and stay on the same page to work out the matches with great cohesion. They have done a great job to adjust to their opponents’ approaches and change their style, as we managed to showcase great aggression to take control of the ball possession at times, while we stayed very patient when we had to be on the defensive end. Regardless of how the match will turn out tomorrow, I believe our players will stay composed and make the necessary adjustments on the pitch.
DF #22 YOSHIDA Maya (Southampton FC)
The World Cup in Russia, this Asian Cup, and the upcoming Copa America will all have a huge impact to the future of Japanese football. The results we put up in these competitions will have a major affect on the sport’s development and popularity in Japan, so we are all playing with a sense of responsibility. I personally would like to earn the fifth Asian Cup title for the Japan National Team. With the team consisting many players from the younger generations, we have a strong team, and if we can earn the title with this team, it will give us great confidence to make a new step forward to achieve higher goals at the next World Cup.
MF #8 HARAGUCHI Genki (Hannover 96)
It is great to have many options and we have been able to showcase that on the field thus far. As we have been doing during this tournament, I am confident that we can adjust to any situations in tomorrow’s match.
MF #9 MINAMINO Takumi (FC Red Bull Salzburg)
We are finally here, and I have a mixed feeling of excitement and commitment to get our job done as a team. The young players have been able to play with no hesitation. That’s only made possible with the experienced players setting up the stage for us. We have been able to improve as a team throughout this tournament. We hope to end in a high note by taking down the title.
MF #10 INUI Takashi (Deportivo Alaves)
I am calm and composed as usual, but I am very eager to win the title at the same time. This is an opportunity to earn my first title as a professional football player, so I hope to capitalise on this chance. Qatar has many talented players, but they are not as organised as a team, so there should be spaces we can exploit. If we can penetrate the gaps, we should be able to create opportunities. The opponents are not a very defensive team, so our offence should manage to break through.
FW #15 OSAKO Yuya (Werder Bremen)
Prior to the tournament, we have always thought that there will be no easy matches. As a team, we have planned to play seven matches in this tournament, and our coach has tried out many strategies along the way. I am very impressed with the way we have managed to keep a high motivation throughout this tournament at the individual level. We hope to finish the tournament with a win to make this an even memorable event.
Felix SANCHEZ, Coach of Qatar National Team
I am very happy to make it this far. Japan has many talented players and they have shown performances at a very high level to make this a wonderful tournament. Even facing a strong opponent who has won this title many times, we hope to perform our very best and earn the result we are striving for. This is the biggest moment in our football history, and it proves that we were making the right approach. Regardless of tomorrow’s result, I am proud of my players.
AFC ASIAN CUP UAE 2019
Tournament Dates: Sat. 5 January - Fri. 1 February 2019
Knockout Stage Final:
Fri. 1 February Kick-off 23:00 (Japan Time)
vs Qatar National Team
Broadcasting: Televised Live at TV Asahi Group
BS Broadcasting: Televised Live at NHKBS1
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