The defenders of SAMURAI BLUE at the CONMEBOL Copa America Brazil 2019
22 June 2019
Following their 2-2 draw against the Uruguay National Team, the SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) has arrived in Belo Horizonte ahead of their third group stage match. In search for their spot into the knockout stage, the team will play against the Ecuador National Team on Monday 24 June at 20:00 local time (Tuesday 25 June at 8:00 Japan time). Here we will review the defenders of the SAMURAI BLUE playing at the CONMEBOL Copa America Brazil 2019.
KAWASHIMA Eiji (#1, RC Strasbourg)
A veteran goalkeeper who has defended the Japanese goal in the past three World Cups. Following his transfer to play for the Belgian side, Lierse SK, in 2010, Kawashima has played in Europe for the past 10 years, providing a unique presence for the SAMURAI BLUE. On top of his exceptional saving skills, his ability to read the game is at the highest level. The veteran has not stopped improving his skills, as the 36-year-old goalkeeper is still in his prime.
KOJIMA Ryosuke (#12, Oita Trinita)
A very technical goalkeeper who came up through the Nagoya Grampus academy system. He has featured in the national teams of each age category from the U-15 and up. In 2016, during his second year at Waseda University, Kojima played as the starting goalkeeper for the U-19 Japan National Team at the AFC U-19 Championship, where the team conceded zero goals throughout the tournament to take the title. He was also named as the team’s main goalkeeper during the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2017, where the team advanced to the round of 16. He is getting limited playing time at his new club in Oita, but he is capable of making big saves, while consisting great foot skills that can add depths to the team’s build-up plays.
OSAKO Keisuke (#23, Sanfrecce Hiroshima)
As a player coming out of Izumi City, Kagoshima, he grew up playing for the local teams, Euchi SSS and Felicidod FC before joining the Sanfrecce Hiroshima Youth upon his entrance to high school. The young talent is capable of showcasing dynamic saves, committing himself to make courageous plays, and consists with a rock-solid mentality. Osako has been named in each age category of the Japan National Team and has featured in most of the league matches for his club in his second year as a professional. He has made his way up the ladder by making big saves in various tournaments and received his first call-up to the SAMURAI BLUE for the KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2019 held in June.
UEDA Naomichi (#5, Cercle Brugge K.S.V)
He was an unknown player until entering Kumamoto Prefectural Ozu High School, where he bloomed as a player. Ueda contributed for the team’s quarterfinal appearance at the FIFA U-17 World Cup and excelled at various age categories of the Japan National Team. After being called up to the SAMURAI BLUE for the first time in 2014, he was named in the squad for last year’s FIFA World Cup in Russia. He is a defender with great speed and power, who shows great dominance in the aerial battles. As the oldest player on the current squad, his leadership is key to the team’s success.
ITAKURA Kou (#4, FC Groningen)
Itakura developed as a player through the Kawasaki Frontale academy system since U-12, along with midfielder MIYOSHI Koji. Accompanying his big physique, the defender also has sound techniques that allows him to support the team’s offence from the back line. With his capability to play both centre half and defensive midfielder, Itakura was signed by the Premier League powerhouse, Manchester City FC, in January, and currently on a loan to the Dutch side, FC Groningen.
TATSUTA Yugo (#22, Shimizu S-Pulse)
Growing up in Shimizu-ward, Shizuoka, also known as the football kingdom of Japan, Tatsuta spent his youth years at the Shimizu S-Pulse academy system. He was featured in each category of the Japan National Team since U-17. Until 2018, he did not play in many international tournaments, but the 191cm defender excelled at the Asian Games to propel the team to finish as the runners-up at the tournament. Although he is predominantly a centre half, he is capable of playing as a right fullback as well.
HARA Teruki (#14, Sagan Tosu)
With his excellent mobility, game intuition, and mentality, Hara is an all-around player who can be utilised as a fullback, centre half, and defensive midfielder. After showing his excellence at Funabashi Municipal High School, he was selected into the U-18 Japan National Team and made his way up the ladder since. He joined Sagan Tosu this season, playing mainly as a fullback for the J. League side. He was teammates with SUGIOKA Daiki at Funabashi Municipal High School.
TOMIYASU Takehiro (#16, Sint-Truidense V.V.)
Starting from the JFA Elite Programme, Tomiyasu has featured every step of the Japan National Team, until reaching the senior side. After joining the Avispa Fukuoka academy system during his years in junior high school, the defender was promoted to the top team in 2015, during his second year in high school. He joined the Belgian side, Sint-Truidense V.V., in 2018, before making his debut with the SAMURAI BLUE later that year. Not only does he have the size and speed, his ability to keep composure on the field is highly regarded along with his sound foot skills.
CONMEBOL Copa America Brazil 2019
Tournament Dates: Fri. 14 June - Sun. 7 July 2019
Tue. 18 June 2019, 8:00 (Japan time)
vs Chile National Team
Fri. 21 June 2019, 8:00 (Japan time)
vs Uruguay National Team
Tue. 25 June 2019, 8:00 (Japan time)
vs Ecuador National Team
- National Teams 2019/06/21 SAMURAI BLUE draws with Uruguay with Miyoshi’s brace at the CONMEBOL Copa America Brazil 2019
- National Teams 2019/06/20 SAMURAI BLUE to face Uruguay in second match of the CONMEBOL Copa America Brazil 2019
- National Teams 2019/06/18 SAMURAI BLUE loses to Chile 0-4 at the CONMEBOL Copa America Brazil 2019
- National Teams 2019/06/17 SAMURAI BLUE to face Chile with “Courage and Persistency” at the CONMEBOL Copa America Brazil 2019
- Japan Football Association 2019/06/17 JFA President TASHIMA Kohzo takes part in a commemorative lecture at Japan House Sao Paulo
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- Competitions 2019/08/15 Oita Trinita wins over National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Kanoya to advance through to the 4th round of the Emperor's Cup JFA 99th Japan Football Championship
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