Halilhodzic asks concentration and accuracy for Japan in World Cup qualifying game vs. Singapore
16 June 2015
One day before their first match in the second qualifier match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Moscow against Singapore, SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) head coach Vahid Hodzic warned his players with a unique analogy that the opponents, who are ranked much lower in the FIFA rankings, would set traps against his team on 15 June.
The second qualifying began on 11 June and a total of 39 teams are divided into eight groups. The group winners and top four teams from the second-place teams will advance to the final qualifier.
Singapore earned three points with a 4-0 win over Cambodia on the 11th and currently is in the second place due to goal differences behind Syria who beat Afghanistan 6-0, in Group E.
Singapore's FIFA ranking is 154th (Japan is 52nd). The two sides faced against each other in the 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifying in 2004 and Japan came on top both home and away. But the gaps were one goal in both contests (2-1 at away, 1-0 at home).
"I believe that we are a better team and it would be a surprise if we won't win it," Halilhodzic said at a news conference at Saitama Stadium 2002, the site for the match. "However, they are setting traps against us in this game. We should not underestimate them and lack our concentration and accuracy.
"Singapore beat Cambodia and that's a proof that they've got a quality," he continued. "This is a World Cup qualifying. You've got to be 100 percent. Unless you are 100 percent, you can't go to the World Cup. If I find players who are not 100 percent, maybe I'll change the players 10 minutes later. The players who will be on the pitch will have to put out their 100 percent."
Halilhodzic has been three for three since he took over as head coach for Japan and it was his first official game. He said: “Everybody is waiting for a win.”
The SAMURAI BLUE players made their final tune-up at the game venue. In a half-court mini game, they worked on checking their fast lateral plays, collectivity and quick transition between offence and defence. Members like midfielder KAGAWA Shinji (Borussia Dortmund) and forward USAMI Takashi (Gamba Osaka) were netting goals.
Also, the four goalkeepers of Japan scrammed joining shoulders with goalkeeper’s coach Ricardo Lopez and some others after the practice, holding some conversation and raising their unity and spirit for the next day's contest.
“The goalkeepers are one team. There's only one positions, but we want to play together in tomorrow's game,” KAWASHIMA Eiji (Standard Liege) said.
Japan have been to five consecutive FIFA World Cups since 1998. They will look to extend it to six through the long qualifying that starts from the 16th.
Head Coach and Players' Comments
Vahid Halilhodzic, Head Coach of SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team)
I think that we are a better side in the Singapore game, so it would be a surprise had we not get away with the win. But we should not fall into Singapore's trap, and if we underestimate them and lack our focus and accuracy, we are not going to play our game.
Singapore have some players up front that are quick footed and will try to attack on us with counters. I think that we are going to outnumber them and have a longer time to possess the ball, but we have to be careful about our defence as well.
France have lost to a team that they had never lost in history. If I find players who aren't 100 percent during the game, I may change them 10 minutes later because if we have players like that, we can't go to the World Cup. I ask our players to have big ambitions and exhibit the best plays they can.
KAGAWA Shinji (Borussia Dortmund)
We've struggled any teams who played defensively, and we don't think we can find ways to score easily, so we want to actively try with patience. In our game against Iraq the other day, all of us were trying so actively, so we want to keep it going and get on the momentum.
I think that it's important for us to play better early on and want to score some goals within the first half. Because our sides take higher positions, I want to keep it up with them, and if I have a chance to take spaces behind their defenders, I want to do that as much as I can.
BERND WALTER STANGE, Head Coach (Singapore National Team)
It's going to be an exciting match tomorrow. We came to Japan with confidence after we took a 4-0 win against Cambodia. We are in a different level from Japan and get a lower credit. But if our players keep their composure and won't make stupid mistakes and do what they are supposed to do, I think it's going to be a good game.
We respect the quality of the Japanese players, but we are not going to give in. I will tell my players that we are going to play against players who are playing internationally. It's great opponents. Let's enjoy a game against a team like that.
JFA-TV (Japanese version only)
Training held day before the match
Interview - KAGAWA Shinji (Borussia Dortmund)
Interview - KAWASHIMA Eiji (Royal Standard de Liege)
Interview - NAGATOMO Yuto (FC Internazionale Milano)
|Mon. 1 June
|Tue. 2 June
|Wed. 3 June
|Thu. 4 June
|Fri. 5 June
|Sat. 6 June
|Sun. 7 June
|Mon. 8 June
|Tue. 9 June
|Wed. 10 June
|Thu. 11 June
|KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2015
vs. Iraq National Team (Nissan Stadium)
|Fri. 12 June
|Sat. 13 June
|Sun. 14 June
|Mon. 15 June
|Tue. 16 June
(subject to change)
|2018 FIFA World Cup and 2019 AFC Asian Cup Joint Qualifiers Round 2
vs. Singapore National Team (Saitama Stadium 2002)
Note: The schedule is subject to change.
2018 FIFA World Cup and 2019 AFC Asian Cup Joint Qualifiers Round 2
SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) vs Singapore National Team
Tue. 16 June Kickoff 19:30 (subject to change)
Saitama / Saitama Stadium 2002
TV Coverage: National Live Broadcasting by TV Asahi group/NHK-BS1
Radio Coverage: Live broadcasting by Nippon Broadcasting System
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