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U-23 Japan National Team to meet Iraq for place at Olympics in Rio de Janeiro

26 January 2016

U-23 Japan National Team to meet Iraq for place at Olympics in Rio de Janeiro

The second must-win match is coming.

U-23 Japan National Team are currently participating in the AFC U-23 Championship Qatar 2016 (Rio de Janeiro Olympics Asian Qualifiers Final Round). The team held a practice session from 3:00 p.m. (9:00 p.m. Japan Time) on 25 January. Just like the day before the quarterfinal, the coach TEGURAMORI Makoto met with the press at 11:30 a.m (5:30 p.m. Japan Time) one day before the match. He answered questions not only from the Japanese media, but also from others. It showed much interest there is in the game against Iraq.

Prior to the daily practice session, the players and staff form a circle around the coach Teguramori Makoto. Although they do the same everyday on the pitch, this time the players encouraged each other after the coach’s instruction: “come on! Let’s do this!” The player’s spirits lifted before the tough game against Iraq.

As IDEGUCHI Yosuke joined the team again, all 23 players gathered on the ground. SUZUKI Musashi, who also came back to the team the day before, participated in the practice session. TOYOKAWA Yuta, however, skipped the practice session in order to work on his particular conditioning needs. KAMEKAWA Masashi and the captain ENDO Wataru also practiced separately after the session with the ball.

In the session just before the game, the players spent plenty of time practicing formations and set pieces in the likely team line-up for the game against Iraq. After the first 20 minutes, they held a closed session. In a close game, corner kicks and free kicks are vital, while substituting players may be able to change the match. The international media has started to show greater interest in Japan since the knockout stage. Therefore the team must stay careful about the information management.

The team has lost to Iraq twice under coach Teguramori Makoto. Both of those defeats are very meaningful experiences for them. Now is the time for the team to show their ability and what they have learned from their victories and defeats.

Today’s game will kick-off at 4:30 p.m. (10:30 p.m. Japan Time).

Coach and Players' Comments

TEGURAMORI Makoto, Coach
The semi-final against Iraq will be a tough game in order to book a place in the final and at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The team met Iraq twice and lost to them twice in the past. So I feel we must beat Iraq before challenging the world. The players aren’t intimidated by Iraq, but they prepared themselves strongly to beat this opponent finally. Although we have put on some exciting see-saw games so far, we’d like to show that we can beat opponents without a struggle in the semi-final and the final, in order to prove that we deserve to be at the Olympics.

GK #1  KUSHIBIKI Masatoshi (Kashima Antlers)
I think it’s destiny to meet Iraq in the semi-final. If we play tenaciously, just like we have been in the previous games, there will be a goal-scoring opportunity for us. Even though we can’t score with it, all we need is to stay calm and wait for another opportunity. I expect the opponent may send high cross balls. Just like previous matches, I’ll stay vocal to communicate with my teammates and stay focused.

DF #5  UEDA Naomichi (Kashima Antlers)
It’s finally the semi-final. I look forward to it. I really want to book a place at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Iraq has always been staunch opponents for our generation, and it’s high time we beat them. During the three-day break after the quarterfinal, the coach Teguramori as well as the staff observed us well to get us into excellent condition. 

FW #7  HARAKAWA Riki (Kawasaki Frontale)
I prepared myself well after the quarterfinal. Although Iraq usually tend to build up to attacks, in this championship they seem to use long-distance balls more often. We need to keep our plays compact, and it’s vital for my position to control loose balls. If we do so, I believe we can keep possession. We are determined to win the game. Having said that, I don’t want to be too tense for the match.

 JFA-TV (Japanese version only)


  • Interview - KUSHIBIKI Masatoshi (Kashima Antlers)

  • Interview - ENDO Wataru (Urawa Reds)

  • Interview - ASANO Takuma (Sanfrecce Hiroshima)


AFC U-23 Championship Qatar 2016
Wed. 13 January 1-0 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 4-0 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 2-1 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 3-0
Knock-out stage  Quarter-Finals vs U-23 Iran
(@Abdullah Bin Khalifa 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 vs U-23 Iraq
(@Abdullah Bin Khalifa 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

AFC U-23 Championship Qatar 2016 (Rio de Janeiro Olympics Asian Qualifiers Final)

Tue. 26 January - 22:30 (Japan Time)
Qatar/Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium
U-23 Japan National Team vs U-23 Iraq National Team
More information

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