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Coach Halilhodzic, “I demand results from my players” ahead of Ukraine Match

27 March 2018

Coach Halilhodzic, “I demand results from my players” ahead of Ukraine Match

On Monday 26 March, Coach Vahid HALILHODZIC of SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) held an official press conference ahead of their match against the Ukraine National Team at the KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2018 in EUROPE, scheduled the next day in Liege, Belgium. The coach stated, “Ukraine is a team that is at a World Cup level. I demand results from my players.”

With limited time left for Japan until the World Cup, this match will serve as a valuable opportunity simulating their scheduled group stage opponent Poland. Japan has already tied against Mali in an international friendly match four days ago, which was also simulating their group stage opponent Senegal. Coach Halilhodzic hopes that, “a win will encourage us greatly psychologically.”

The head of Japanese National Team described Ukraine as, “very well organised team that links well with each other. A team with very high quality. I demanded results from my players.” Also directed the players to, “approach the match as a World Cup match. Even if the opponent is 190cm tall, challenge them and win against them. I want you to keep trying. And for those of you who earned the opportunity, you must acknowledge and play with responsibility.”

After failing to qualify for this summer’s World Cup, Ukraine has been in full rebuild mode. After the team has tied against Saudi Arabia 1-1 four days ago, former Ukraine National Team striker, and current coach, Andriy SHEVCHENKO has mentioned to rotate their line-ups and try new players against Japan.

Coach Shevchenko who has been quoted, “I respect the Japanese country and their culture,” spoke regarding the match, “Japan has great speed up the line, so we will have to stay compact to defend against them.”

On this day, both teams held a training session at the match venue, Stade Maurice Dufrasne. The training session was closed to the public except for the first 15 minutes of the session.

The Japanese team started the session with a warmup routine of jogs, step-works, and sprints. Field players were then divided into two groups and checked their pass-works. The session was then held under closed doors and the team went onto going over their tactics.

Continuing from the previous day forward OSAKO Yuya (1.FC Koeln) who has a discomfort in his right adductor muscle conditioned himself in a separate menu. Midfielder OHSHIMA Ryota (Kawasaki Frontale) and defender UGAJIN Tomoya (Urawa Reds) were both absent due to injury.

Goalkeeper KAWASHIMA Eiji (Football Club de Metz) spoke about the team, “none of us are happy with how we played and the result in the match against Mali. In that sense we all share a sense of urgency. At the minimum, each and every player must give all they got including their strengths and character.”

Forward KUBO Yuya (KAA Gent) mentioned, “my job is always the same. If I am given the opportunity, I will create more chances and play to be involved in many chances.”

The match will be held on Tuesday 27 March with a 14:30 (21:30 Japan time) kick-off time.

Coaches' and Players' Comments

Vahid HALILHODZIC, Coach of SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team)
It’s unfortunate that they are not playing in the World Cup, but Ukraine is a stronger team than Mali, and they are a very well organised team that links well with each other. We will be facing a team with high quality, but I have demanded results from my players. Ukraine ranks higher than Japan in the FIFA World Rankings. We will challenge against a World Cup level team and earn a victory against them.

Heading into the World Cup, we will deepen the team’s understanding and showcase a high-level match against a team with higher quality in terms of tactics, techniques, and physical strengths than Mali. I want my players to play as if the World Cup has already begun. If we can win against this opponent, we will be encouraged greatly phytologically and gain major confidence.

I have observed Colombia’s match, and compared to them, we are well behind. We must acknowledge that as a team and make our action accordingly. We must unite as a team and proceed as a team in all aspects. I don’t want my players to feel inferiority complexed against their opponents. In any given match, we must believe that there are no matches we cannot win. Players must also acknowledge the fact that many things can happen at the World Cup. It is my job to create an atmosphere where the players can challenge with strong intention and courage. The pressure will increase as the World Cup approaches, but even under that pressure, I want my players to behave with responsibility. I want the team to move forward in good form.

GK #1 KAWASHIMA Eiji (Football Club de Metz/France)
With many players playing abroad, we must rethink what is the difference between ourselves and the rest of the world. Tactics are important, but more than anything, it comes down to individual strengths and techniques at the fundamental level. Each little passes and one-on-ones must not be taken for granted. If we don’t improve ourselves in those matters, it will be difficult for us to get good results at the World Cup.

MF #17 HASEBE Makoto (Eintracht Frankfurt/Germany)
There were positive aspects during the match against Mali, so we would like to continue those against Ukraine as well. Ukraine is a stronger team than Mali, and they are a very well organised team. Against such team, we must avoid making tactical and individual errors as much as possible.

FW #11 USAMI Takashi (Fortuna Düsseldorf/Germany)
Our first match against Mali did not go well, so as a team, we are focused on earning a victory. Contributing for my team is my top priority, and I would like to produce visible results.

FW #14 KUBO Yuya (KAA Gent/Belgium)
There were plays that worked well and didn’t work well against Mali. I am hoping we can show a better team effort in this match. My job is to penetrate the space behind the defenders, so I’d like to make more runs this time.

Andriy SHEVCHENKO, Coach (Ukraine National Team)
We are prepared for our match, free of injuries. We are not participating in the World Cup, so we are in the process of selecting national team candidates. Japan has great speed up the line, so we will have to stay compact to defend against them. Our team has shown their ability to create many chances in our recent matches, so at this match I am hoping to see plays that can convert those chances.

  • KAWASHIMA Eiji (Football Club de Metz/France) Interview (Japanese)

  • HASEBE Makoto (Eintracht Frankfurt/Germany) Interview (Japanese)

  • USAMI Takashi (Fortuna Düsseldorf/Germany) Interview (Japanese)


Mon. 19 March PM Training
Tue. 20 March PM Training
Wed. 21 March PM Training
Thu. 22 March PM Official Training
Fri. 23 March 1-1 International Friendly Match
vs Mali National Team (Stade Maurice Dufrasne)
Sat. 24 March AM Training
Sun. 25 March PM Training
Mond 26 March PM Official Training
Tue. 27 March 14:20 KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2018 in EUROPE
vs Ukraine National Team (Stade Maurice Dufrasne)

*Local Time
*The schedule is subject to change due to the team condition, the weather, etc.

SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) vs Ukraine National Team
Tuesday, 27 March 2018 Kickoff at 14:20 local time (21:20 Japan time)
Belgium/Stade Maurice Dufrasne
For more information

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