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SAMURAI BLUE arrive in Tehran, finish 1st workout

06 September 2015

SAMURAI BLUE arrive in Tehran, finish 1st workout

SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) arrived in Tehran, the capital city of Iran, on 5 September, where the third match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Asian Qualifiers 2nd Round will be held, and the squad practised in the evening to prepare themselves against their next opponents Afghanistan. 

Considering the long flight they took from home, the workout was centred on light conditioning drills such as running and fitness training. What they did with balls was only passing drills with the whole squad including goalkeepers divided into three groups. The players looked relaxed and took advantage of the acclimating work.

Despite strong sunshine and the temperature of nearly 30 degrees, the humidity was so low that players expressed their thirst as soon as they started moving. In addition to the unique climate, Tehran has high altitude of 1200 meters to 1500 meters. The ball potentially moves differently from the way the players are usually used to.

Defender YOSHIDA Maya (Southampton FC/England) said of the uncommon environment “I haven’t felt it that much yet, but it’s dry and the turf is different from that of Japan or Europe. We need to get used to that touch.”

The match against Afghanistan has been determined to be held in a neighbouring country, Iran, due to the instability of Afghanistan’s domestic situation. Although the match does not take place in their home country, Tehran is close enough for many Afghan supporters to come to Azadi Stadium, the match venue in Tehran.

“That’s what happens when you play away matches against Middle Eastern countries,” added Yoshida, who has played as many as 56 matches with the national team. Midfielder ENDO Wataru (Shonan Bellmare) said “I can’t really imagine what kind of atmosphere it will be, but what we do is the same. We focus on getting three points without failure.”

The training of the day was open to Japanese children and their families living in Tehran, who watched closely and cheered loudly to SAMURAI BLUE players from the stands. Also the young guest enjoyed the memorial group photoshoot with the players and coach Vahid HALILHODZIC on the pitch before the training. 

The match against Afghanistan is scheduled to kick off at 4:55 p.m. (8:55 p.m. Japan time) on 8 September. 

Players' Comments 

DF   YOSHIDA Maya (Southampton FC/England)
In set-pieces, I want to look for goals. I have to play not to score myself but also to get the team as a whole to score. But the way we execute set-pieces are a little different now than before. We have to coordinate the way we go to the ball with the quality of the ball. We need to keep working on that.

I also think we need to polish them in matches and grow as a team throughout the qualifiers. We just won one match, but not whole a lot. We need to add up points. 

MF   HARAGUCHI Genki (Hertha BSC Berlin/Germany)
What I do doesn’t change, no matter where I am, away or at home. I get prepared and wait for an opportunity. I often come off the bench in Bundesliga. I find more space to operate when doing that, so I can flourish more in those situations. So I don’t see any negatives in coming off the bench. Of course starting is better, but I always come out for matches with a visualisation of myself doing well.

FW   HONDA Keisuke (AC Milan/Italy)
It wasn’t as hot as we thought in this practice. So that finding only is a plus. Where we are in the group right now isn’t so important. What only matters is being at a satisfying place when we finish. So right now we try to focus on qualities, results and performances that we have in front of us.

I know the accuracy of my free-kicks hasn’t always been there, but I have done well when I really need to do well. So I think I will be fine if I can beat the pressure and put up a good result when it really matters.

MF   ENDO Wataru (Shonan Bellmare)
If we win this one, we can really move forward to the advancement. I don’t know if I get to play in the match. All I have to do is make sure that I will be prepared. Our next opponents will be tougher than Cambodia in terms of physical battles in front of goal and on the ball, so I want to keep that in mind and try not to lose in those battles. 


Thu. 3 September 3-0 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Asian Qualifiers Round 2
AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 Preliminary Joint Qualification
vs Cambodia National Team (SAITAMA Stadium 2002)
More information
Fri. 4 September AM Training
Sat. 5 September PM Training
Sun. 6 September PM Training
Mon. 7 September 17:00 Official Training (Azadi stadium)
Tue. 8 September 16:55 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Asian Qualifiers Round 2
AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 Preliminary Joint Qualification
vs Afghanistan National Team (Azadi stadium)
More information

2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Asian Qualifiers Round 2 AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 Preliminary Joint Qualification

SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team)  vs   Afghanistan National Team
2015-9-8 (Tue.) - 16:55<Local Time> 21:25<Japan Time> (subject to change) 

More information
Announcement from Iran Embassy of Japan – To people who come for the match against Afghanistan –

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