New Japan coach Halilhodzic names 31-man squad for his late March debut
20 March 2015
New SAMURAI BLUE head coach Vahid Halilhodzic announced his 31 national team squad players and 12 backup players on Thursday 19 March ahead of his debut matches. Japan National Team play the KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2015 against Tunisia at Oita Stadium in Oita on Friday 27 and the JAL CHALLENGE CUP against Uzbekistan at Tokyo Stadium in Tokyo scheduled on Tuesday 31.
Halilhodzic stood beside a projector prepared in the press conference room in front of the press and introduced his newly-selected player after player by position on the screen.
The 31-man squad includes midfielder YAMAGUCHI Hotaru (Cerezo Osaka) and forward KOROKI Shinzo (Urawa Reds) in addition to familiar faces such as forwards HONDA Keisuke (AC Milan) and OKAZAKI Shinji (1.FC Mainz 05) and midfielder KAGAWA Shinji (Borussia Dortmund).
Although defenders NAGATOMO Yuto (FC Internazionale) and UCHIDA Atsuto (FC Schalke 04) and midfielder KONNO Yasuyuki (Gamba Osaka) are injured, they were called up since the boss requested so, saying, “We need to assess their condition and have them know our objective.”
While defender FUJIHARU Hiroki was listed for the first time, his Gamba Osaka teammate forward USAMI Takashi and forward NAGAI Kensuke (Nagoya Grampus) were also selected after a long interval.
KAWASHIMA Eiji (Standard Liege), HIGASHIGUCHI Masaaki (Gamba Osaka), NISHIKAWA Shusaku (Urawa Reds) and GONDA Shuichi (F.C. Tokyo) were picked for the goalkeeper position.
Halilhodzic says, “I want them to compete in each position. I don’t have any predetermined best squad. Players’ performance varies depending on their form in each period, so I will select players who best perform by observing their condition.”
“ Playing as a representative of your country requires pride and responsibility from you. To play as a member of the national team, you need to have great humanity, take actions not just words and be a good player,” added Halilhodzic.
Under the new boss, the backup member system was newly installed. Western Sydney Wanderers midfielder TAKAHAGI Yojiro, KAWASAKI Frontale defender KURUMAYA Shintaro and FC Basel forward KAKITANI Yoichiro are some of the names on the list. Those players are for an injury-replacement purpose and do not participate in camps.
Being asked about his intention for the backup players, Halilhodzic explains, “This is a message that ‘The group is big.’ and ‘Be prepared.’ Either you play in Japan or internationally, many players have a potential to be called up. I want them to keep up motivation and recognise the competition will begin.”
The team start a camp on Monday 23 in preparation for the upcoming two matches.
“The two matches are up there for us to win. I want to show something we can say ‘This is our way’ for the 2018 Russia (FIFA World Cup) and the direction we are heading in the first match,” the new coach says firmly.
The Tunisia match kicks off at 7:30 p.m. on 27th and the Uzbekistan match kicks off at 7:25 p.m. on 31th.
Vahid Halilhodzic, Head Coach（SAMURAI BLUE Japan National Team)
Because it hasn’t been so long since I came to Japan and I don’t know enough about players, it really wasn’t easy to make up this list. I discussed with Technical Committee Chairman SHIMODA, met a lot of coaches who’ve got experience in Japan, watched matches in many places and checked up a lot of footages. SAMURAI BLUE are open to everyone. I call up the best players at the time. If any good players whose performance level is sufficient, I will call them up even from the Olympic team.
SAMURAI BLUE’s key strength is collective plays, which means to be a team. We will mainly work on such a thing in practice and look for our identity on the pitch. To achieve that, we need to communicate plenty of messages and train hard. I want this group to know my style.
There need to be a certain level of automatism and mentality to get a win. We need some time to achieve that. We use that time to train, and our coaches and players hold series of discussions every day so that each player can understand his role before a match. I want to play as many players as possible in the next two matches. I strongly encourage them to bring out their 100% mentality and performance to win. I’m certain that I can further improve SAMURAI BLUE and our results.
SHIMODA Masahiro（JFA Technical Committee Chairman）
The two matches in March will be important to get ready for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers in June. I’m so glad he took over the new coach role in spite of the short period of preparation time. I want the two matches to be a good preparation as we focus on winning.
|Mon. 23 March
|Tue. 24 March
|Wed. 25 March
|Thu. 26 March
|Fri. 27 March
|KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2015 v Tunisia National Team (Oita Stadiuam)
|Sat. 28 March
|Sun. 29 March
|Mon. 30 March
|Tue. 31 March
|JAL CHALLENGE CUP 2015 v Uzbekistan National Team (Tokyo Stadium)
KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2015
Fri. 27 March 2015
SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) v Tunisia National Team
Oita Stadium, Kickoff 19:30/Open 16:30
TV Coverage: National live broadcasting on TBS Group
JAL CHALLENGE CUP 2015
Tue. 31 March 2015
SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) v Uzbekistan National Team
Tokyo Stadium, Kickoff 19:25/Open 16:25
TV Coverage: National live broadcasting on NTV Group
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