Interview with U-22 Argentina National Team Head Coach Javier MASCHERANO “I can't wait to go to Japan” – International Friendly Match: U-22 Japan National Team vs U-22 Argentina National Team
07 November 2023
The U-22 Japan National Team will take on the U-22 Argentina National Team in an international friendly match at IAI Stadium Nihondaira in Shizuoka on Saturday, 18 November. Here we interviewed Javier MASCHERANO, Head Coach of the U-22 Argentina National Team, about his impressions of Japan and Argentina’s style of play.
○This interview was conducted online on 26 October 2023
――Japan and Argentina have played each other in the U-20 category at the Maurice Revello Tournament in June last year and at the training camp held prior to the FIFA U-20 World Cup™ in May this year. What is your impression of the Japanese team?
MASCHERANO The last two meetings were at the U-20 category, but this time the teams are playing at the U-22 category. I think Japan are one of the countries that have grown steadily over the years, and I felt throughout the matches that they were a great opponent with a lot of dynamism and great individual technique. As well as players who play in Japan, there are also players who play overseas, some of whom play at the highest level of the game. I think it will be great for us to play them in Japan and I expect it to be a very fascinating experience.
――I have the impression that Argentina is a country where great young talent is always emerging, what do you think are the reasons for this?
MASCHERANO Argentina is a lucky country. For us, football is a passion in life. Many of our people interact with football on a daily basis, whether in public squares, parks or on the streets. Many players grew up playing football in the streets. We believe that these frequent opportunities to touch the ball and be exposed to football are the factors that create talent and allow children to develop.
――How would you describe the playing style of the U-22 Argentina National Team that is coming to Japan this time?
MASCHERANO The trip to Japan in November will be the team's third activity since its inception. The team began its activities in September and had its second activity in October. Many players have been tested and the team is preparing for the South American qualifiers for the Paris Olympics, which begin in January next year. The team’s main objective is to send players on to the senior team, so they are playing in line with the style and concept of the Argentina National Team, which requires the players to play systematically as a unit while also using their individual skills to create chances. Offensively, we place great emphasis on taking the initiative by possessing the ball in the opponents’ half and being aggressive in regaining possession when we lose it. In Argentina, the players are asked to work on four or five key concepts from the lower categories, and this team is in the final stages of that process. Although we have different head coaches for each age group, we all share the same concept and viewpoint of developing players for the senior team.
――How do you want this friendly match to go?
MASCHERANO In preparation for the match, we have started analysing footage of Japan's matches in September (AFC U23 Asian Cup Qatar 2024™ Qualifiers) and the matches against the U-22 Mexico and U-22 USA National Teams on their USA tour in October. But no matter who we play, we must stick to our style of controlling the game and taking the initiative by possessing the ball. We also need to focus on regaining possession quickly when we lose the ball and start attacking from high up. We want to use this match to instil these habits into the team. Taking into account what we have analysed, we want to integrate the key concepts into the team and demonstrate our ability to adapt to any given situation.
――You have visited Japan several times in the past as a player for FC Barcelona and the Argentina National Team, what is your impression of Japan?
MASCHERANO I have been to Japan many times and every time I feel that it is a really well maintained and disciplined country. I feel the respect of the Japanese people every time I go there. We are very happy that the U-22 Argentina National Team has been invited. We hope to make the most of this opportunity to enjoy ourselves, get in touch with Japanese culture and grow stronger through the games we will play.
――Please give a message to the football fans in Japan.
MASCHERANO The team and I are really looking forward to going to Japan. We really can't wait for 18 November. I think the Japan National Team and the domestic league in Japan have become very competitive over the years, so we feel that we need to prepare ourselves well in order to compete at their level. We are looking forward to meeting the Japanese fans and are very grateful to the JFA for this opportunity.
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