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HOME > SAMURAI BLUE > KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2017 [10/10] TOP > NEWS > Halilhodzic: "I'm expecting them to bring out the best" – KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2017 against New Zealand


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Halilhodzic: "I'm expecting them to bring out the best" – KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2017 against New Zealand

06 October 2017


SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) coach Vahid HALILHODZIC spoke at the press conference at the match site Toyota Stadium in Aichi Prefecture on Thursday 5 October with one day remaining until the match against New Zealand in the KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2017, saying "It's going to be a very good test tomorrow. I expect my players to bring out the best of their ability."

To select his squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, of which Japan clinched a spot recently, Halilhodzic indicated that he would send different starting line-ups and use the six-man substitution in the upcoming match and the following contest against Haiti on Tuesday 10 to give the playing time to as many players as possible.

The opponents New Zealand are physically big and strong – a different type of team from the Asian rivals Japan faced in the qualifiers.

“New Zealand has a concept of going with duel and are very aggressive,” Halilhodzic analyses the opponents. And he urges his players to stir themselves, “Regardless of playing time, I expect each player to bring out the best of their ability and capitalize on the chance he gets. There are other players waiting for the chance.”

With an intercontinental playoff match of the World Cup Qualifiers against the fifth-placed team from the CONMEBOL in November, New Zealand coach Anthony HUDSON said, “Japan are aggressive, and similar to the opponents we face in November. This coming match will be a very good test for us.”

The match between New Zealand and Japan this time is the third matchup between the two countries. Japan won the last two matches: one in the group stage of the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2003 (2-0) and the other in the KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2014 (4-0). While Japan are 40th place in the FIFA Rankings, New Zealand stand at 113th.

However, they have built up their experience in overseas leagues, led by forward Chris WOOD (Burnley FC), who scored two goals in the Japan match in 2014 and defender Winston REID (West Ham United).

Defender YOSHIDA Maya (Southampton FC) said, “We’ve got to play differently than we do in Asia, and need good tactics. We will go all out and find what we learn and what we need to improve.

On this day at the match site, the Japan squad reviewed their tactics with the doors closed except for the first 15 minutes of the session. Forward HARAGUCHI Genki (Hertha BSC Berlin), who stayed at hotel for a separate workout due to a left hamstring strain on the previous day, did not join the team’s full practice yet.

Midfielder IDEGUCHI Yosuke (Gamba Osaka) said with his ambition to stay on the team all the way to the World Cup, “The competition is already on now. I want to keep working hard to showcase myself in every match.”

In the next eight months before the Cup starts in Russia, Japan National Team are set to play against Brazil and Belgium after the two matches this month.

Halilhodzic says “We want to win these consecutive matches here, build up more confidence and get prepared for the trip in November.” He certainly expects further improvement of the team.

Coaches' and Players' Comments

Vahid HALILHODZIC, Coach of SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team)
I expect New Zealand will come out highly motivated because they are in their preparation for the important playoff. The starting line-ups for the two matches won’t be the same. (When you build a team) You have to build a team to have consistency from defence to the midfield and to the front and also to select players to maintain a good balance between defence and offence. I want my players to do their very best and take advantage of this opportunity. There are other players who are waiting for their own chance. I said to my players “The World Cup is the most wonderful and beautiful tournament, but it requires a lot and there is also some risk. If you are not ready, you end up with regret and feel a great deal of frustration and shame.” This eight months is a very important stretch for them. Every one of them has to battle for his position both with their club and on this national team.

DF #19 SAKAI Hiroki(Olympique de Marseille)
If we control the match well and win as a team and piling up that kind of success, the defence will deserve credits. So, what we need to do is just do what we are supposed to do. The keys to successful defence are our combination and how we can work together. Once we can start trusting each other, it will get better gradually. I know for sure that our combination has got better, but considering the fact that our goal is the World Cup, it’s not good enough yet. We want to keep trying.

DF #22 YOSHIDA Maya (Southampton)
The opponents are tall and physically strong. So, we need to play against them differently from how we play against opponents in Asia. We can’t go to the World Cup unless we come out with good results especially in October, November and March next year. I want to stay focused and do what I am supposed to do and raise the performance level of the team. I think it’s important for as many players as possible on the team to do well in this series and the next.

MF #2 IDEGUCHI Yosuke(Gamba Osaka)
The competition is already on for the World Cup. The key is how much I can improve in this short period of time like eight months. I want to show how I have improved in every training camp even in practice. Both defensively and offensively, I want to show my presence, my ability to help my team win. In defence, I will make sure to eliminate every opponent’s chance and in offence, I want to go up when I have a chance to do it and want to leave tangible results such as assists and goals.

FW #8 HARAGUCHI Genki (Hertha BSC Berlin)
In the Bayern match, I could prove that I had been ready both physically and mentally, and I wanted to do the same here. I wanted to show good performance. So, it’s disappointing. I will watch and learn tomorrow what kind of plays are effective and what the player taking my position does well.

Anthony HUDSON, Coach of New Zealand National Team
Japan are very aggressive, have dangerous players and are a very good team. It will be a good test for us. We are not a big-name team, yet good team and we learned in the Confederations Cup that we are capable of playing well against big-name teams. We want to get a good result tomorrow, too.

JFA-TV (Japanese version only)

  • SAKAI Hiroki (Olympique de Marseille) Interview

  • YOSHIDA Maya (Southampton) Interview

  • IDEGUCHI Yosuke (Gamba Osaka) Interview


Sun. 1 October PM Training
Mon. 2 October PM Training
Tue. 3 October PM Training
Wed. 4 October PM Training
Thu. 5 October 17:00
Official Conference (Toyota Stadium)
Official Training (Toyota Stadium)
Fri. 6 October 19:20 KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2017
vs New Zealand (Toyota Stadium)
Sat. 7 October AM Training
Sun. 8 October PM Training
Mon. 9 October 17:00
Official Conference (Nissan Stadium)
Official Training (Nissan Stadium)
Tue. 10 October 19:30 KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2017
vs Haiti (Nissan Stadium)

* The schedule is subject to change due to the team condition, the weather, etc.

Fri. 6 October 2017 19:20 kick off (estimated time)
SAMURAI BLUE vs New Zealand National Team
Aichi/Toyota Stadium
TV Broadcasting. Live broadcasting across Japan by NIPPON TV Group

More Information

Tue. 10 October 2017 19:30 kick off (estimated time)
SAMURAI BLUE vs Haiti National Team
Kanagawa/Nissan Stadium
TV Broadcasting. Live broadcasting across Japan by TBS Group

More Information

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