The attacking players of SAMURAI BLUE at the CONMEBOL Copa America Brazil 2019
23 June 2019
With their tournament life at stake, the SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) is about to face the Ecuador National Team at the CONMEBOL Copa America Brazil 2019. For the team to have any chance of advancing to the quarterfinals, they must win this match, scheduled on Monday 24 June. Ahead of the pivotal match, here we will review the attacking players of the SAMURAI BLUE.
NAKAJIMA Shoya (#10, Al Duhail SC)
Coming out of the Tokyo Verdy academy system, he played for Kataller Toyama and FC Tokyo before joining the Portuguese side, Portimonense, in August 2017. After registering 10 goals in his first stint in Europe, he took his talents to Qatar, as he joined Al Duhail SC in 2019. He played a pivotal role for the Olympic team at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, leading to this SAMURAI BLUE debut in 2018. Nakajima is a highly skilled player who is capable of creating chances with his dribbling ability.
MIYOSHI Koji (#11, Yokohama F・Marinos)
As a product of the Kawasaki Frontale academy system, Miyoshi made his SAMURAI BLUE debut at this tournament. The left-footed attacker is capable of carrying the ball in tight spaces and creating opportunities from his dribbling skills. He has also displayed his ability to combine with his teammates, while showing well struck shots when given the opportunity. After taking part in various international tournaments including the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2013 and the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2017, he has plenty of international experience at the highest level.
ITO Tatsuya (#8, Hamburger SV)
Although he may not be the tallest player on the field, at 163cm, Ito is a winger with extraordinary dribbling skills. With his ability to take shots after making a cut-in to the central area, he has provided a reliable source of attack for Japan. Despite coming up as a young prospect in the Kashiwa Reysol academy system, he was acquired by the German side, Hamburger SV, during his third year in high school. He took no part with the Japan National Team until he was named by coach MORIYASU Hajime to join the U-21 Japan National Team. He made his first call-up to the SAMURAI BLUE for the KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2018 held in September 2018.
ABE Hiroki (#20, Kashima Antlers)
He was not involved with any category of the Japan National Team, and he was an unknown player until his third year at Setouchi High School, when he was picked out by the scouts of Kashima Antlers. During his rookie year as a professional, he was named into the U-19 Japan National Team to attend the Toulon Tournament in June 2017. In the following year, we became one of the core players that propelled the team at the AFC U-19 Championship. With his solid techniques and great work ethics, Abe provides creativity, calmness, and strong mentality to the team.
KUBO Takefusa (#21, FC Tokyo → Real Madrid CF)
In 2011, Kubo signed with FC Barcelona as a 10-year-old, before returning to Japan in 2015. He played in the FC Tokyo academy system before turning professional in 2017, at age 16. After a stint with Yokohama F・Marinos, it was announced on June 2019, that he will be joining Real Madrid CF. On the same month, he made his SAMURAI BLUE debut at the KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2019. The young phenom has an exceptional vision, strong mentality to keep his poise at any given situation, and solid techniques that can deliver the ball with pin-point precision.
OKAZAKI Shinji (#18, Leicester City FC)
Since getting his first call-up in 2008, the veteran striker has scored 50 goals for the SAMURAI BLUE, putting him in third place of the all-time list. However, he is far from just being a goal scorer, as his work ethics has been legendary. Through his tireless efforts to chase the ball and tenacious plays to create opportunities, he has contributed for the team in many different ways. He has become a role model for the young players and his performance brings great energy to the team.
MAEDA Daizen (#9, Matsumoto Yamaga FC)
As a striker with great speed, Maeda is capable of exploiting the space behind the opposing defence line, while he also consists with great dribbling skills and shooting ability. He will not hold back on chasing the defenders to apply pressure and create distraction to the opponents. In 2016, he joined Matsumoto Yamaga FC from Yamanashi Gakuin Senior High School. After being loaned to Mito Holly Hock during the 2017 season, he has improved dramatically as a player, earning the attention of coach Moriyasu to be selected to the SAMURAI BLUE.
UEDA Ayase (#13, Hosei University)
With 15 goals under his name, Ueda is the top scorer for coach Moriyasu’s U-22 Japan National Team. His ability to make runs into open space and his off the ball movements are both exceptional. He has also shown his ability to score goals after coming off the bench as a substitute, making him a valuable option both as a starter and as a reserve player. He was an unknown player until attending Hosei University, where he was picked out by coach Moriyasu.
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
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