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U-23 Japan National Team finally to play tonight

13 January 2016

U-23 Japan National Team finally to play tonight

On 12 January, one day before the opening match against DPR Korea in the AFC U-23 Championship, which is also the final Asian qualifying round for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, four coaches from Group B appeared at a press conference. The atmosphere was building at the site.

TEGURAMORI Makoto, the coach of the U-23 Japan National Team, expressed his enthusiasm in front of international media: "although this championship is to book a place in the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, I’d like to use this opportunity to strengthen an important generation for the future of Japanese football. All the matches will be held at the same site within a tight schedule. I believe the difficulty will improve young players. We’re 100% determined to play in the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro." At the end, he wished for each team to play hard and fair along with the other three coaches.  

During the last practice session prior to games, the coach TEGURAMORI encouraged the players: "whatever position you may be, all of you play together with the responsibility of playing for our country in your minds." The players did a detailed check of their playing system, tactics, and set pieces to finish the 60-minute practice session. They stayed calm with perfect composure, despite their enthusiasm and nervousness. 

The first game will kick-off at 16:30 (22:30 Japan Time) today. Young Samurais will show their potential for the future of Japanese football.

Coach and Players' Comments

TEGURAMORI Makoto, Coach
Finally, we are here. No one picked up any injuries during the preparation period and all the players are ready enough to be on the pitch. We will finally play the long-awaited first game. At the press conference, all other coaches mentioned Japan. I found that all the opponents wanted to beat us more than we expected. I passed this information on to the players. We have to prepare to face tough games.

We were in a whirl of activity both through the AFC U-22 Championship 2013 in Oman and the Asian Games, but we are very calm now, and looking forward to the first game. This is the start for this generation to play and compete internationally. If they cannot play strongly on their own, there is no hope for the future of Japanese football. With determination, we’d like to play as hard as possible in this excellent championship.

GK #1  KUSHIBIKI Masatoshi (Kashima Antlers)
DPR Korea has many players, who are tall and physically strong. I bet they will use this advantage in set pieces. So I’d like to bear that in mind when playing. Keeping a clean sheet brings us confidence as a team and as individuals. The opening match is always vital in any championship, as winning would build up some positive momentum for us. I’d like to look to earn three points as a team.

DF #2  MATSUBARA Ken (Albirex Niigata)
Finally, it’s beginning. I’m getting myself in an excellent condition, and I’ll prepare enough for tomorrow’s match. In a recent friendly, I didn’t feel any pain in my knee. I believe I played fairly well despite some break in playing for the national team. My knee is almost recovered. I’m pleased that we’re responsible for this championship, which will decide whether or not we can book a place in the Olympics six times in a row. Our team aim to achieve this goal. Whenever I’m on the pitch, I’ll think first and foremost about the team’s victory, while displaying my individual strength. I believe we can earn a place at the Olympics as long as we play hard as a united team. I’ll do my best.

MF #21  YAJIMA Shinya (Fagiano Okayama)
Tomorrow, I’d like to display what we’ve been practicing since January 2014. Personally, I’ll pass the ball around, so that my teammates can play well, and balance my performance throughout the game. I’d like to initiate attacks from good movements as a team and as an individual. The opening match is essential. We’ll play hard as a united team.

FW #11  KUBO Yuya (Berner Sport Club Young Boys/Switzerland)
After joining the team at the Ishigaki Island training camp, we’ve been in preparation. Now I fully look forward to the first game. I have settled into the team, and I’m getting myself in good condition. Especially, I think I coordinate well with other forwards. As the number of goals in a game is one of the most important measurements for me, I’d like to focus on finishing shots. The first match is vital. So I’d like to play as a united team to win, while personally staying ambitious for goals.

JFA-TV (Japanese version only)


  • Interview - KUSHIBIKI Masatoshi (Kashima Antlers)

  • Interview - MATSUBARA Ken (Albirex Niigata)

  • Interview - KUBO Yuya (Berner Sport Club Young Boys/Switzerland)


Sun. 3 January PM Training
Mon. 4 January AM/PM Training
Tue. 5 January PM Training
Wed. 6 January 2-1 International Friendly Match vs U-23 Syria (@Al Ahli Stadium)
Thu. 7 January 2-0 International Friendly Match vs U-23 Vietnam (@Al Ahli Stadium)
Sat. 9 January AM Training
Sun. 10 January PM Training
Mon. 11 January AM
Official training (@Grand Hamad Stadium)
Tue. 12 January PM Training
AFC U-23 Championship Qatar 2016
Wed. 13 January 16:30 Group Stage 1st Match vs U-23 DPR Korea
(@Grand Hamad Stadium)
Thu. 14 January AM Training
Fri. 15 January PM Training
Sat. 16 January 16:30 Group Stage 2nd Match vs U-23 Thailand
(@Grand Hamad Stadium)
Sun. 17 January AM Training
Mon. 18 January 17:45 Official training (@Suhaim Bin Hamad Stadium)
Tue. 19 January 16:30 Group Stage 3rd Match vs U-23 Saudi Arabia
(@Suhaim Bin Hamad Stadium)
Wed. 20 January AM Training
Thu. 21 January TBC Official training (@tbd)
Fri. 22 January 16:30

Knock-out stage  Quarter-Finals (If Japan top the Group)
(@Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium)
Knock-out stage  Quarter-Finals (If Japan 2nd the Group)
(@Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium)
Sat. 23 January AM Training
Sun. 24 January PM Training
Mon. 25 January PM Training
Tue. 26 January 16:30

Knock-out stage  Semi-Finals (If Japan top the Group)
(@Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium)
Knock-out stage  Semi-Finals (If Japan 2nd the Group)
(@Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium)
Wed. 27 January AM Training
Thu. 28 January PM Training
Fri. 29 January 17:45 Knock-out stage  3rd/4th-Place Playoff
(@Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium)
Sat. 30 January 17:45 Knock-out stage  Final
(@Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium)

*Local Time

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