Coach Moriyasu of SAMURAI BLUE shares aspiration to “Recapture title while building the team” at AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019
13 December 2018
On Wednesday 12 December, Coach MORIYASU Hajime of the SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) announced the 23-man roster for the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 scheduled to open on Saturday 5 January at UAE. With the team striving for their fifth overall Asian Cup title, the coach shared his aspiration to, “Recapture the title while building the team.”
The roster featured the likes of NAKAJIMA Shoya (Portimonense S.C.), MINAMINO Takumi (FC Red Bull Salzburg), and DOAN Ritsu (FC Groningen), who has been the core players since the new regime has started in September.
Nine players who played at this summer’s FIFA World Cup were called up such as OSAKO Yuya (Werder Bremen), HARAGUCHI Genki (Hannover 96), SHIBASAKI Gaku (Getafe C.F.), and YOSHIDA Maya (Southampton FC). Defender NAGATOMO Yuto (Galatasaray S.K.) who has been getting treated for pneumothorax has returned to the squad since the KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2018 in October.
Forward ASANO Takuma (Hannover 96) also made his return to the team after being side-lined due to injury since his last call up in September. TOMIYASU Takehiro (Sint-Truidense V.V.), who just turned 20 last month has been also named into the team.
Since Coach Moriyasu took over the helm five months ago, the team has recorded an unbeaten record of four wins and a draw, and the Asian Cup will be the first official tournament for them.
Coach Moriyasu stated, “Our goal is to recapture the title and take home the trophy back to Japan.”
Regarding the selected roster, the coach described it as, “The best possible selection at this moment.” When asked about the reasoning behind selecting mostly younger players with less experience, Coach Moriyasu shared his approach by stating, “There is a part of me that wants to utilise the experienced players,” but continued by saying, “I want these players to have a strong intention that they are the ones who are constructing the new Japan National Team and strive for the title.”
“The team needs to improve in many ways. We will utilise each of the matches to develop ourselves and strive to take down the title.” The Japanese head coach continued by sharing his perspective on the Asian Cup, “If we can take down the Asian Cup title with this squad, it will give us great confidence, which can guide us to an even higher level.”
Ever since winning their first title in 1992, Japan has been crowned as champions in 2000, 2004, and 2011. A win in this tournament will give them their first title in two appearances which will be their fifth overall.
While it is expected that the opposing side will be fully prepared to face Japan, Coach Moriyasu stayed alerted, “We must enter the match with the intention to perform better than the previous matches, or else it will be a very difficult tournament for us.” He also added that, “If we can construct a stronger team, we can compete at a higher level, regardless of either it’s in Asia or at the world stage.”
The team will start its training camp in Chiba Prefecture from Wednesday 26 December and enter UAE following the new year.
At the Asian Cup, 24 teams are divided into six groups of four teams in the group stage. Japan is placed in Group F where they will face Turkmenistan (Abu Dhabi) on 9 January, Oman (Abu Dhabi) on the 13th, and Uzbekistan (Al Ain) on the 17th. Top two teams from each group will enter the knockout stage along with the top four teams among the third-place finishers of each group. The final will be held on 1 February at Abu Dhabi.
MORIYASU Hajime, Coach of SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team)
In this Asian Cup, we will strive to take down the title and bring back the trophy to Japan, which is something we couldn’t do in our last appearance. In order to win the title, we must fight through seven matches. We will face and utilise each match to develop the team so that we can finish the tournament as champions.
I had a very difficult time selecting the team, especially with many injured players, but I ultimately made the decision by looking at who are in their top conditions at the current moment. There is a part of me that wants to utilise the experienced players who has fought for the Japan National Team in the past, including those who has excelled at the World Cup in Russia, but I want these younger players to have a strong intention that they are the ones who are constructing the new Japan National Team and strive for the title. Asano has not been with the team since September, but after watching his recent matches, I felt that his speed is essential for the team, so that is why I have made the decision to add him to the team.
If we can take down the Asian Cup title with this squad, it will give us great confidence, which can guide us to a new level. Also, with these selected players performing well at the tournament, it shall inspire the players who were not selected into this squad and help heighten the overall level of the Japanese football community.
It is expected that our opponents will be fully prepared to face Japan, so we must enter the match with the intention to perform better than the previous matches, or else it will be a very difficult tournament for us. We must be fully committed in that regards. The players did manage to perform well against the Kyrgyz Republic National Team in November, where are opponents played deep in their territory. Our team showed great intensity and kept trying to strive for higher levels in that match. It was a performance that will help us ahead of the Asian Cup.
I have told the players that we will be seeking for results. I want them to think and act in ways that will help the team earn good results, either when they are in the match, during training, and even while off the pitch. We will train so that the players can read the flow of the game and make adequate adjustments during the match. We must heighten our conditions both as a team and as individuals. The stronger we can get, the better results we can earn.
SEKIZUKA Takashi, JFA Technical Director
This Asian Cup will represent the first tournament of 2019, and it is a tournament that determines the Asian Champions every four years. In our previous appearance we lost at the quarterfinals, despite entering the tournament as the defending champions. We will enter this year with a strong determination to recapture the title. The JFA will continue to support Coach Moriyasu throughout the tournament.
|Wed. 26 December||PM||Training|
|Thu. 27 December||PM||Training|
|Fri. 28 December||PM||Training|
|Sat. 29 December||PM||Training|
|Sun. 30 December||TBC||Training|
|Thu. 3 January||PM||Training|
|Fri. 4 January||PM||Training|
|AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019|
|Sat. 5 January||PM||Training|
|Sun. 6 January||PM||Training|
|Mon. 7 January||PM||Training|
|Tue. 8 January||PM||Official Press-Conference/Training|
|Wed. 9 January||15:00||1st Group Stage Match
vs Turkmenistan (Al Nahyan Stadium, Abu Dhabi)
|Thu. 10 January||AM||Training|
|Fri. 11 January||PM||Training|
|Sat. 12 January||AM||Official Press-Conference/Training|
|Sun. 13 January||17:30||2nd Group Stage Match
vs Oman (Zayed Sports City Stadium, Abu Dhabi)
|Mon. 14 January||AM||Training|
|Tue. 15 January||PM||Training|
|Wed. 16 January||PM||Official Press-Conference/Training|
|Thu. 17 January||17:30||3rd Group Stage Match
vs Uzbekistan (Khalifa Bin Zayed Stadium, Al Ain)
|Fri. 18 January||TBC||Training|
|Sat. 19 January
Sun. 20 January
Mon. 21 January
|Sun. 20 January
Mon. 21 January
Tue. 22 January
|TBC||Round of 16
(Sharjah Stadium / Khalifa Bin Zayed Stadium /
Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium / Rashid Stadium)
|Thu. 24 January
Fri. 25 January
(Al Maktoum Stadium / Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium /
Zayed Sports City Stadium / Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium)
|Mon. 28 January
Tue. 29 January
(Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium / Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium)
|Fri. 1 February||18:00||Final (Zayed Sports City Stadium)|
*The schedule is subject to change due to the team condition, the weather, etc.
AFC ASIAN CUP UAE 2019
Tournament Dates: Sat. 5 January - Fri. 1 February 2019
Wed. 9 January Kick-off 20:00 (Japan Time)
vs Turkmenistan National Team
Sun. 13 January Kick-off 22:30 (Japan Time)
vs Oman National Team
Thu. 17 January Kick-off 22:30 (Japan Time)
vs Uzbekistan National Team
Broadcasting: Televised Live at TV Asahi Group
BS Broadcasting: Televised Live at NHKBS1
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