SAMURAI BLUE go about first match under Halilhodzic vs. Tunisia
27 March 2015
SAMURAI BLUE (Japan men's national team) will take on Tunisia as their first match under new head coach Vahid Halilhodzic in the 2015 Kirin Challenge Cup at Oita Sports Park Stadium on 27 March. The new boss has clarified that he wanted to use as many players as possible and stated that he was "looking forward'' to the new challenge. The team have held a training camp there since the 23rd. They have practiced based on issues that they came up with in their daily meetings, checking on their offensive and defensive strategies.
"Our players have worked on things carefully with disciplines and created great mood,'' Halilhodzic said. "For our game on the 27th, we would like to give players who haven't had much play time and new players.''
The team practiced for more than an hour at the game site that day, working on some physical training, including dashing to raise their agility, and a mini game. During a shooting practice, Halilhodzic fed passes to forwards Again NAGAI Kensuke (Nagoya Grampus) and USAMI Takashi (Gamba Osaka), giving them some instructions.
"Tunisia is physically strong. They have some nine guys who are taller than 185 cm and they are going to dominate the aerial game,'' Halilhodzic said. "And their free kicks are accurate and dangerous. We want to play with our own quality. We want to play giving up unnecessary fouls inside 30 meters of our own goal, play aggressively and accurately in terms of our defensive pressuring, and aim at taking behind the opponents capitalizing on fast grounder passes.''
Japan have posted three wins in the previous three games against Tunisia. Tunisia have competed in the FIFA World Cup for four times but have missed a berth after the 2006 edition.
Yet Tunisia ranks 25th while Japan is 53rd in the latest FIFA rankings. Tunisia, led by a former Belgium coach Geroges Leekens. Have so many tall players, including midfielders Ahmed Akaichi, who scored four goals in four games in January's Africa Nations Cup, Mohamed Gouida of Germany's Hamburg SV.
"Tomorrow's game will be a good test for the Japan national team,'' Halilhodzic said. "Tunisia is way above us in the FIFA rankings, but we want to win it from the bottom of our heart. I'm thrilled to see how our team are going to play. I hope our players to capitalize on this opportunity. Every start is an adventure. I hope that this adventure will lead up to the FIFA World Cup in Russia in 2018.''
Nagai said: "I want to showcase speed, which is my trait.''
The Japan-Tunisia match will kick off at 7:30 p.m.
Head Coaches' Comments
Vahid Halilhodzic, Head Coach (SAMURAI BLUE/Japan National Team)
I'm really looking forward to how our team will play tomorrow. As I've worked with our players and held meetings with the team and individual players in the last three, four days, we showed a lot of different videos of how we are supposed to play and explained to them both offensive and defensive things in details. I told them to play tough with the ball, win and the biggest goal is to go to the World Cup. I think that our players firmly accepted it. We played a lot of tactical practices yesterday and the day before, and I think that we improved on a pair of things. In these two games, I am thinking of playing as many players as possible. Because we might not be able to call up this many players in the next occasion, we want them to take advantage of this opportunity. I think that it's an adventure at the beginning, but I am expecting that this adventure will lead up to the World Cup in Russia in 2018.
Geroges Leekens, Head Coach (Tunisia)
First, we had a very unfortunate happening in Tunisia a week ago, and we would like to express our condolences for all the victims, including those of Japan. Because we had that misery, we hope to play a better game tomorrow. Japan have a new head coach and I assume they'd want a victory, but we want to win as much. We don't have players who play at big clubs abroad, but we are a good team with good young players with hungriness. For our young guys, this is an important game with the (2016) Olympic qualifying gets under way. It will be important how we'll play in the first 20 minutes to us, so we should not tackle the opponents who are concealing the knife, and we want to play with speed, not losing our concentration. This is two teams who love to play football, so it's going to be a tough but good game.
Interview - SHIBASAKI Gaku
Interview - NAGAI Kensuke
Interview - OKAZAKI Shinji
|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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