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Osako, Kagawa arrive to SAMURAI BLUE camp

08 November 2016

Osako, Kagawa arrive to SAMURAI BLUE camp

In the city of Kashima in Ibaraki Prefecture, SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) had another day of practice on Monday 7 November for the Asian final qualifiers match of the FIFA World Cup 2018 against Saudi Arabia (on 15 Nov. in Saitama).

In their preparation for the important contest against a rival in Asia, the squad will play the Kirin Challenge Cup 2016 against Oman on Friday 11 at Kashima Football Stadium.

The second day of the camp saw forward OSAKO Yuya (1.FC Koeln/Germany), midfielder KAGAWA Shinji (Borussia Dortmund/Germany), midfielder HASEBE Makoto (Eintracht Frankfurt/Germany), defender SAKAI Gotoku (Hamburger Sport-Verein/Germany) and midfielder YAMAGUCHI Hotaru (Cerezo Osaka) join the rest of the squad. Also in the middle of the training session, forward ASANO Takuma (VfB Stuttgart/Germany) who had just landed came directly from the airport and worked out with running and other light regimen.

Meanwhile the players who were there from the beginning of the camp engaged in one-on-one battles in small-sized areas and five-on-five drills under the supervision of coach Vahid HALILHODZIC for nearly 90 minutes.

Osako who played for Kashima Antlers from his J.League debut in 2009 to his departure to Germany in 2014 smiled when asked about practicing at a familiar environment, saying “memories come back to me. I am happy to be back here as a Japanese international.” “I get to play at the stadium I love most. I am determined to get good results”, added the forward.

Osako has been in good form making appearances in every match for his club this season. He says “getting accustomed to playing in that high-level football environment helped me improve the most. I want to display the same level of performance in the national team, but even more aggressively chasing for goals.”

Midfielder SAITO Manabu (Yokohama F・Marinos) reflects the two matches against Iraq and Australia as ‘disappointing’, since he was not given the chance to play. “Getting back to Marinos (J.League Division 1 Team) and working hard there helped me get called up again. So what matters now is what I do from this point on. I will do my best to attain good results.”

As a side note, six players are still absent from the squad, including forward HONDA Keisuke (AC Milan/Italy) and midfielder KIYOTAKE Hiroshi (Sevilla FC/Spain) and are scheduled to arrive on Tuesday 8.

Players' Comments

DF SAKAI Hiroki (Olympique de Marseille/France)
Saudi Arabia have posted good results, which means they are defending quite well. It has been said that they are good at set-pieces, while we are not, but I don’t believe so. We have no problem as long as we maintain our focus in defending against them. It is still necessary not to give away free-kicks at critical locations. Furthermore, we still need to come up with an effective game plan against Saudi Arabia, but we have enough time to find the optimal solution. We will prepare ourselves to challenge them in form with good tactics.

FW OSAKO Yuya (1.FC Koeln/Germany)
Both the formation and my role are different at my club and here, but I can picture myself being able to handle that. More than anything, being able to play in Germany is a source of my confidence, so I want to display the same level of performance in the national team. I think they valued my attainments in the club. Being able to regularly play in the league matches, I have got used to the physicality and speed in the Bundesliga. Getting accustomed to playing in that high-level football environment helped me improve the most.

GK NISHIKAWA Shusaku (Urawa Red Diamonds)
We want to win against Saudi Arabia no matter what. We have to enter the game with a good level of tension, while making sure that we will be well-prepared for the match. We have to take the fact that we conceded goals through set pieces seriously. But I think there is no goal that you can’t prevent. I feel that I can do even better in stopping penalty kicks and defending against free kicks. Furthermore, I want to do a better job at critical moments and help my team win. I will perform superbly so that the people will say ‘the goalkeeper brought us three points’.

MF SAITO Manabu (Yokohama F・Marinos)
It’s important to figure out what I can do for this team to reach the World Cup. I want to add new elements to the squad by getting the chance to play on the pitch. We cannot afford to lose, so I have to work hard. In the (previous) matches against Iraq and Australia, I kept watching while getting ready to enter the game at any moment and simulating how to impact the game by creating scoring chances. I believe that I can play as well as anybody else once I get on the pitch. So I will focus on doing the things that need to done.

MF YAMAGUCHI Hotaru (Cerezo Osaka)
The match against Saudi Arabia will be the most important match this year. Above all, we have to win. Oman and Saudi Arabia matches are home games, so we want to wrap up this year by winning both of them. Even though I play for a J2 club, I get called up every time and I get to play in matches. So whenever I am on the pitch, I must attain positive results.

JFA-TV (Japanese version only)

  • SAITO Manabu (Yokohama F・Marinos) Interview


Sun. 6 November PM Training
Mon. 7 November PM Training
Tue. 8 November PM Training
Wed. 9 November PM Training *
Thu. 10 November TBC Official Conference (Kashima Soccer Stadium)
Official Training (Kashima Soccer Stadium) *
Fri. 11 November 19:20 KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2016
vs  Oman National Team (Kashima Soccer Stadium)
Sat. 12 November AM Training
Sun. 13 November PM Training *
Mon. 14 November TBC Official Conference (Saitama Stadium 2002)
Official Training (Saitama Stadium 2002) *
Tue. 15 November 19:35 ASIAN QUALIFIERS
vs  Saudi Arabia National Team
(Saitama Stadium 2002)

*Open to the media beginning 15min.
*The schedule is subject to change due to the team condition, the weather, etc.


2016-11-11 (Fri.) - 19:20 (estimate time)
Kashima Soccer Stadium
SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) vs Oman National Team
More Information

※HUGE CROWD and HEAVY TRAFFIC expected for the game. Please check the directions/traffic information below.
Directions/ Traffic Information (Japanese only)


2016-11-15 (Tue.) - 19:35 (estimate time)
Saitama Stadium 2002
SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) vs Saudi Arabia National Team
More Information

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