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HOME > National Teams > NEWS > Halilhodzic: We have to show who we really are – Press conference ahead of match against Syria at World Cup Asian Qualifiers Round 2


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Halilhodzic: We have to show who we really are – Press conference ahead of match against Syria at World Cup Asian Qualifiers Round 2

08 October 2015

Halilhodzic: We have to show who we really are – Press conference ahead of match against Syria at World Cup Asian Qualifiers Round 2

At the press conference ahead of the match on the next day against Syria for the fourth match of the 2nd round qualifiers in Asia for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, the coach of SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) Vahid HALILHODZIC expected his players to show up ready to fight. “It will be the toughest match for us tomorrow. We have to show who we really are.”

Syria, Group E leaders, currently have 9 points with the perfect record of 3-0-0, 13 total goals scored and 0 goals against, while Japan, with the 2-0-1 record, follow them by two points. An automatic advance to the next round will be awarded to the country who finish the current group round atop. Japan need to win the important next match against Syria to receive the privilege.

In the FIFA ranking, Japan are now placed at 55th as Syria are well below at 123rd. Although the past record between the two nations states Japan’s seven wins and one draw, many of them were very close matches including the last encounter at the AFC Asian Cup’s group round four years ago where Japan barely came out with the 2-1 victory with the penalty-kick goal in the last minutes.

Furthermore both countries’ U-23 National Teams went head to head in the 2012 London Olympics final qualifiers and Japan fell short 2-1 and struggled mightily for the rest of the tournament because of the loss. The history certainly does not guarantee any favourable outcome for Japan. 

Halilhodzic also mentioned the fact that the home match for Syria takes place in a neutral country due to the countries domestic instability as an extra factor to motivate the Middle Eastern team. “They will come all out to show something for their country. We have to be ready both physically and mentally and show our toughness.”

Syria’s coach Fajr IBRAHIM said “Our goal is nothing but getting the three points. We have all the information about Japan. We are perfectly ready and have no concerns at all. Our three straight wins prove that. We will show our presence for the people in our country.”

In the last three matches, Syria scored 13 goals, including forward Omar KHARBIN’s three and Reja RAFE’s two, and conceded zero goals to their opponents. The scoring capability of the rest of the team cannot be ignored, either, as eight other players have scored one each.

In terms of the preparation for the match, Halilhodzic is also confident. “Our players are all highly motivated and they showed great mental readiness in the tactics practice yesterday.”

Another potential problem for Japan is the heat, as high as 35 degrees in the evening, and the high humidity. 

Forward OKAZAKI Shinji (Leicester City Football Club/England) said it is “worse than (we) expected”. “How we start off the match is important. I think it will come down to how much we can outhustle our opponents. This environment makes it difficult even for them to keep pressuring us throughout the match. I think we can outsmart them in that regard,” added the confident forward. 

Defender NAGATOMO Yuto (FC Internazionale Milano/Italy) also said “The change of pace as a team will be important. I think the total capability of our team and collectiveness will be tested.”

The match will kick off at 5 p.m. (10 p.m. Japan Time) on 8 October at Seeb Stadium.

Players' Comments

FW   HARAGUCHI Genki (Hertha BSC Berlin/Germany)
I will only look at winning this match, and I will do what I am expected to do for the team including scoring and getting involved with goals. We never know how Syria play against us until the match actually starts, but we have simulated various scenarios, so we will play flexibly. 

For me to go to the next level individually, I think I need to achieve something that dramatically changes the outcome of the matches with the national team. To do that, all I need to do is scoring goals. I am in good shape both mentally and physically. So I want to show that on the pitch, and with everything I have I will focus only on winning. 

FW   OKAZAKI Shinji (Leicester City Football Club/England)
Everyone is in great shape individually, so whoever gets to play can play well. I am in good condition as well, so I will show how much I want to score goals. Our team have good momentum going from the Afghanistan match.

It comes down to how many good chances we can create and then what kind of outcomes we can get out of those chances. But it’s my job there. I will take initiative and move ahead to call for the ball. I want to put up good results to help my team with my goals.

GK   NISHIKAWA Shusaku (Urawa Reds)
We have a strong determination for the match tomorrow, and we have prepared enough for that. No matter what happens I will hold them scoreless. Once we can start the match well, we can keep playing good football. I will be very careful especially of the first and last 15 minutes of the match. 

I used to have a hard time getting playing time in consecutive matches, but by playing consecutive matches recently I have realised some things. Until we get to the FIFA World Cup, I strongly want to hold on to this position. All I can do is to prove with my plays that I am worthy of that. 

DF   NAGATOMO Yuto (FC Internazionale Milano/Italy)
The turf is long and soft, but we practiced on it today and I think we can cope well with it. Conditions such as the weather can’t be an excuse. I will do my best to perform well. I think they will look for counter-attacks, so we will be ready for it and start with making sure to win every 1-on-1 battles first. 

Considering the heat, it’s impossible to keep pressing hard throughout the 90 minutes. The change of pace as a team will be important. I think the total capability of our team and collectiveness will be tested.

MF   KIYOTAKE Hiroshi (Hannover 96/Germany)
Tomorrow’s match is the most important one for us. All I am thinking to do is to make sure to play well at whatever position given to me and get good results there. We have many players such as Honda and Kagawa who can do the job in front of goal. So I want to give those guys as many balls as possible and have a better rhythm for our offence.

I didn’t play in the London Olympics qualifiers because of my injury, but our generation experienced a disappointment there. So I will make sure to pay that back tomorrow.

Fair IBRAHIM, Coach (Syria National Team)
Tomorrow’s match is very important and worth as many as six points. I have done this job as the country’s national team coach for the total of 10 years and I know our players very well, even though most of our players are playing outside of our country. The players have played with each other for long and know each other very well, too.

We are perfectly ready and have no concerns at all. We have all the information about Japan. We respect them but don’t feat them. We will go and get three points.

JFA-TV (Japanese version only)

  • Interview - HARAGUCHI Genki (Hertha BSC Berlin/Germany)

  • Interview - OKAZAKI Shinji (Leicester City Football Club/England)

  • Interview - NAGATOMO Yuto (FC Internazionale Milano/Italy)


Mon. 5 October PM Training
Tue. 6 October PM Training
Wed. 7 October 16:30
Official Conference (Seeb Stadium)
Official Training (Seeb Stadium)
Thu. 8 October 17:00 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Asian Qualifiers Round 2
AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 Preliminary Joint Qualification
vs  Syria National Team (Seeb Stadium)
More information
Fri. 9 October PM Training
Sat. 10 October PM Training
Sun. 11 October PM Training
Mon. 12 October 16:30
Official Conference (Azadi stadium)
Official Training (Azadi stadium)
Tue. 13 October 17:00 International Friendly Match
vs  Iran National Team (Azadi stadium)
More information

2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Asian Qualifiers Round 2 AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 Preliminary Joint Qualification

10-8 (Thu.) - kick off at 22:00 <Japan Time> (subject to change) 
Oman/Seeb Stadium
Syria National Team  vs  SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team)
More information

International Friendly Match

10-13 (Tue.) - kick off at 22:30 <Japan Time> (subject to change) 
Iran/Azadi stadium
Iran National Team  vs  SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team)
More information
Announcement from Iran Embassy of Japan – To people who come for the match against Iran – (Japanese version only)

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