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HOME > SAMURAI BLUE 2018 > NEWS > SAMURAI BLUE holds training session behind closed doors ahead of their match against Uruguay at KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2018


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SAMURAI BLUE holds training session behind closed doors ahead of their match against Uruguay at KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2018

15 October 2018

SAMURAI BLUE holds training session behind closed doors ahead of their match against Uruguay at KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2018

On Sunday 14 October, the SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) held their training session behind closed doors two days ahead of their match against the Uruguay National Team at the KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2018.

After the team has fought their match against Panama National Team, the team left Niigata on the evening of Saturday 13 October. On this day, the team conducted their session in Saitama for about an hour and a half, where the first 15 minutes were open to the media.

During the portion of the session that was open to the media, the team were seen warming up by jogging and stretching, followed by agility routines and physical training drills. The team was then divided into two groups where they played possession drills. Meantime the goalkeepers were seen going through drills to catch short-bounds from close distance and lobbing balls subsequently.

Midfielder ITO Junya (Kashiwa Reysol), who missed the session on the previous day as a precautionary measure, returned to the training grounds and conducted a different work out from the rest of the team.

Japan’s next opponent, Uruguay has appeared in 13 World Cups including the recent World Cup in Russia and has won the cup twice, finished as runners-up once, and finished in the final four three times. They are currently ranked in fifth place of theFIFA rankings, where Japan currently sits at 54th. Uruguay has also finished as the runners-up in last year’s U-20 FIFA World Cup as well.

Their ace striker, Luis SUAREZ (FC Barcelona) is not featured in their squad that recently arrived in Japan, but the team is led by Edinson CAVANI (Paris Saint-Germain) who scored three goals in the recent World Cup, where they advanced to the elite eight of the tournament. The team consists a total of 16 players who participated in the World Cup including Rodrigo BENTANCUR (Juventus), Lucas TORREIRA (Arsenal), and Diego GODIN (Atletico Madrid).

Japanese midfielder NAKAJIMA Shoya (Portimonense S.C.) mentioned regarding the match, “Their defence is very solid, and their offence consists with players who can make a difference with very few numbers. I am looking forward for this match.”

Following the World Cup, Uruguay has won their match against Mexico 4-1 in an international friendly match held last month but lost to Korea Republic 1-2 just recently on Friday 12 October. So, they will certainly come out to avoid recording consecutive loses when they face Japan.

Japan’s head-to-head record against Uruguay is one win, one draw, and four losses. In their previous encounter, Japan has lost 0-2 in a match played in Sapporo on September 2014.

Midfielder SHIBASAKI Gaku (Getafe C.F.) shared his take on the match, “The opponents consist with numbers of high-quality players. It is a rare occasion to face such powerhouse, so we must enter the match as if this is an official tournament match.” Defender SAKAI Hiroki (Olympique de Marseille), who plays against Uruguay’s Cavani in the France Ligue 1, mentioned on their opponent’s ace, “Even if he is not involved with the play for 80 minutes, he can still score 2 or 3 goals in 10 minutes. We must stay focused for the entire 90 minutes. Keeping a clean sheet in this match is a must. We will have to give our very best to contain them.”

The match is scheduled to kick-off at 19:35 on Tuesday 16 October at Saitama Stadium 2002.

Players’ Comments

GK #1 HIGASHIGUCHI Masaaki (Gamba Osaka)
Uruguay is a higher ranked team in the FIFA rankings and they have many quality players in their squad. I have seen their match against Korea Republic, and I am sure it will be a tough match. There will be stints where we will be forced to stay in our own half, but we will challenge them with our passing-football. The range where they can strike a shot and timing of their shots will be very different from what we normally see in Japan, so I must stay alerted at all times. I must also respond quicker against their crosses and stay aggressive to defend. We were able to share our view points during dinner, which allowed us to put ourselves on the same page despite having many players from different age groups.

DF #19 SAKAI Hiroki (Olympique de Marseille)
A strong team can both attack and defend the final 16 meters of the field with great aggression and accuracy, which can really determine the outcome of the match. A small club team can find their way to put up a good fight against Barcelona. But to win the match, they must be very detail oriented. It is up to how we can fill in that gap. We must contain our opponents and keep a clean sheet. Compared to the previous two matches, this opponent will showcase greater quality in their plays, so we must stay alerted at all times. Every player who will be on the pitch will give their very best.

MF #7 SHIBASAKI Gaku (Getafe C.F.)
We are in the process of preparing ourselves mentally. If I am given the opportunity to play in the match, I will enter the match with confidence. The new squad features many attacking players, so there are many opportunities for me to dish the ball around. My number one priority is to allow the attacking players to play the way they want. That’s something I have been visualising to prepare myself for the World Cup matches, and I will be taking the same approach with this new squad. I am visualising the team making a vertical approach in our attacks. If we can materialise that on the pitch, I think we can execute more dynamic attacks. I will be sharing what I know about the Uruguayan players who I’ve played against in the La Liga. These are top players even in Spain, so it will present a great challenge for Japan.

MF #10 NAKAJIMA Shoya (Portimonense S.C.)
The players who played in the match against Costa Rica were all having fun on the pitch. We would like to continue to play that way, while improving ourselves from the previous match. Even though we will be facing a different team, if we continue to enjoy ourselves on the pitch and showcase our style of football, we should be able to display a quality performance, so I will focus on enjoying the match. Although losing the ball is not a good thing, it’s even worse if we stayed back in fear of getting counter attacked, so we must maintain an aggressive approach to take the initiative. (Regarding the team dinner conducted on the 13th) I think it was a necessary step for the team to unite as one. I tried not to eat too much.


Schedule of the SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team)

  • Interview of NAKAJIMA Shoya (Portimonense S.C./Portugal)

  • Interview of OSAKO Yuya (Werder Bremen/Germany)


Tuesday, 16 October 2018 Kick Off at 19:35 (Estimated time)
Saitama/Saitama Stadium 2002
SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) vs Uruguay National Team

Match Information

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