Coach Moriyasu prepares SAMURAI BLUE ahead of “Crucial match” against Costa Rica
27 November 2022
On Saturday 26 November, one day before their second group stage match against the Costa Rica National Team at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, Head Coach MORIYASU Hajime of the SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) appeared in an official press conference held in Doha, where he shared his aspiration, “This is a crucial match for us. We are going to be flexible with our approach in order to achieve victory.”
Playing in Group E, Japan won their opening match against Germany 2-1 and are tied on three points with Spain, who defeated Costa Rica 7-0. If Japan defeat Costa Rica while Spain win or draw against Germany in a match held at another venue on the same day, Japan will advance to the round of 16 for the second consecutive tournament.
Despite being thrashed by Spain in their first group match, Costa Rica have a strong track record at the World Cup, having reached the quarterfinals at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™. Led by veteran goalkeeper Keylor NAVAS the team finished fourth in the CONCACAF qualifiers which earned them a spot in the intercontinental play-off against New Zealand where they clinched their third consecutive, sixth overall, World Cup appearance.
When asked about Costa Rica, coach Moriyasu mentioned, “They are a well-organised team that consist of very athletic players and are capable of playing excellent defence. They will be giving everything they’ve got in this match, so we must be prepared.”
Costa Rica’s Head Coach Luis Fernando SUAREZ also appeared in the press conference, where he commented, “Japan displayed a wonderful match against Germany. We must showcase our best performance in order to win.” As the Colombian coach stressed his willingness to get back on track despite the Costa Rican media's ongoing inquiries about their blowout loss to Spain.
The players ability to reset their minds will be crucial because the match comes three days after their battle against Germany, but coach Moriyasu voiced his faith, "The players have already shifted their focus to the next match. I hope they will play patiently and aggressively until the end tomorrow." The coach also expressed his strong desire to respond to Costa Rica's approach and "come out on top in the end."
ENDO Wataru (VfB Stuttgart), who also took part in the press conference added, “Heading into the tournament, we expected the second match to be important. We haven’t achieved anything yet, so we must win.”
On this day, the team held an official training session that started before noon, to coincide with the kick-off time of the match, in which the session was closed to the media except for the first 15 minutes.
During the portion of the training that was open to the media, the players were seen going through their warmup routine before engaging in a passing drill in which YOSHIDA Maya (FC Schalke 04) and MINAMINO Takumi (AS Monaco) chased the ball with light steps. TOMIYASU Takehiro (Arsenal) and SAKAI Hiroki (Urawa Red Diamonds), who experienced discomfort in their legs, continued to train separately from the team.
Japan has an undefeated record against Costa Rica, having played them four times, winning three and drawing once. Their most recent meeting was in the KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP, which Japan won 3-0, and it was the first international match under the Moriyasu regime.
Minamino was one of the players who recorded his first international goal in that match, as he commented, “I have good memories of that match, but they are a totally different team now. We need to focus on how we should approach the match in the given circumstance.” The Japanese number 10 continued by sharing his aspiration for the match, “This is a match we need to win at all costs. I will do my best to help the team win.”
“Costa Rica will be looking to earn three points at all costs,” said SOMA Yuki (Nagoya Grampus), in reference to Iran's victory over Wales in their second group stage match after losing their first match. “We will be watchful of their counterattacks while also attempting to gain the mental edge to take the initiative of the match.”
The match between the SAMURAI BLUE and the Costa Rica National Team will kick-off at 13:00 local time (19:00 Japan time) at Ahmed bin Ali Stadium on Sunday 27 November.
Coaches and Players’ Comments
MORIYASU Hajime, Head Coach of SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team)
We were able to train well in the last three days following our match against Germany, so I'm hoping that the players will continue to play as a team in tomorrow's match, be tenacious and patient to the end, and fight aggressively for victory. Costa Rica have reached the quarterfinals before. They are a well-organised team that consist of very athletic players and are capable of playing excellent defence. After losing their first match 0-7, they will be giving everything they’ve got in this match, so we must be fully prepared. Undoubtedly, this is going to be a crucial match for us. Regardless of how our opponents approach this match, we will make adjustments according to the situation and come out on top in the end. Beating Germany, World Cup champions and currently one of the best teams in the world, is a great achievement for the Japanese football world and I am proud of the players who put up a great fight, but a win over Germany does not guarantee us a victory in tomorrow’s match. The players have already shifted their focus to the next match, and I am confident that they will make the most of their past experiences to prepare themselves to claim a victory over Costa Rica. We were able to win the match against Germany with the support of all the people in Japan. I have been informed that our victory brought joy to many people, so we will continue to do our best to win against Costa Rica and deliver even more excitement to our nation.
GK #12 GONDA Shuichi (Shimizu S-Pulse)
Costa Rica are not completely out of the tournament yet, so they will certainly be looking to win this match. They are a strong team to begin with, so we need to understand that it only takes a small change for them to turn things around. They are in a must win situation, so they may come out attacking from the start of the match. As a goalkeeper, I must pay close attention to our defensive shape. Despite having a lot of injuries, we have been able to compete as a team because we have a lot of talented players and have tried a variety of different combinations. Coach Moriyasu has invested a lot of time and effort in this team, which is allowing us to play with confidence, regardless of who is on the pitch. We will continue to stick with our football until the end of this tournament.
FP #2 YAMANE Miki (Kawasaki Frontale)
With the matches being played every four days, I am preparing myself so that i am ready at all times. We are in this tournament as a team, so regardless of who gets to play, we are all here to support the team. We need to make the necessary adjustments on the pitch because, given what transpired in the first match, we are unsure of how Costa Rica will approach this match. Defensively, it is important that we are on the same page in terms of who is going for the ball. The first match served as a good reminder that preparation is everything, so that is something we need to keep in mind as we approach the match. I will try to work in tandem with the offence, so that I can display my strengths as a full back. The team's victory over Germany made me very happy, but I was also disappointed that I wasn't on the pitch, so I am even more eager to play and make an impact. I am anxious and excited at the same time, so I will try to maintain my composure while also playing with aggression.
FP #6 ENDO Wataru (VfB Stuttgart/Germany)
This is going to be a very important match for us. We are expecting another tough match like the one against Germany, but we will do our best as a team to earn three points. Regardless of the outcome of the first match, we entered the tournament thinking that the second match will be a crucial match for us. Our opponents have their backs against the wall, so they will undoubtedly come out to win this match. We also must be fully prepared, both as a team and as individuals, to win this match, because we haven’t achieved anything yet. I had been out for a while (due to a concussion) prior to our match against Germany, so now that I have played in a match, I feel like I can go into the next match in better shape. Since the last World Cup, I have put in a lot of effort to gain a starting spot, which I believe is benefiting the team's development. The team's years of work culminated in the match against Germany, and we need to continue performing at this level through the remainder of the competition. That, in my opinion, is all we need to do.
FP #10 MINAMINO Takumi (AS Monaco/France)
This is a match we need to win at all costs. I will do my best to help the team win. We held a meeting to go over our offensive strategy as a team, and we are hoping that everything will go according to our plan. Even if our opponents drop deep into their territory, I believe we can still create chances with our ability to work in tandem to share and create spaces to build our attacks. (Reflecting on his first international goal scored against Costa Rica in 2018) I have good memories of that match, but they are a totally different team now. We need to focus on how we should approach the match in the given circumstance. Regardless of the score, it is important that we win the match. We were able to maintain a strong mentality until the very end despite facing a powerful German side. Even if we change our approach to the game, I believe we should maintain our challengers' spirit and not alter our way of thinking.
FP #15 KAMADA Daichi (Eintracht Frankfurt/Germany)
Considering that our goal against Germany was to earn at least a point, obtaining three points was a huge accomplishment for us in terms of our chances of moving on to the knockout stage. I also feel good physically. I get the impression from watching Costa Rica's matches in the qualifiers that they are capable of scoring goals on counterattacks while defending their lead with their tenacious defence. I feel confident in our ability to possess the ball and even if our opponents drop deep in their half, we have plenty of talents to break down their defence. I hope to take advantage of the players around me who can open up opportunities on their own, while I concentrate on maintaining possession of the ball. We shouldn't forget that getting a point is our bare minimum goal.
FP #18 ASANO Takuma (VfL Bochum/Germany)
We must put aside the fact that Costa Rica lost their opening match to Spain because they are a strong team with quality players on both offence and defence. As in the last match, if we really put in the effort to prepare ourselves, I think good results will follow. I am always anticipating to penetrate the space and score goals. Our opponents are going to give everything they’ve got, so we must endure their offence, while seeking for our opportunities to counter. And I think that's where my contribution as a forward comes into play. I will prepare myself in the best way possible, so that I will not miss a single opportunity. I firmly believe that I am the kind of player who rises to the occasion, and I am full of confidence right now. One of my strengths, in my opinion, is my ability to focus, have faith in my ability to succeed if I put my all into it, and have the mentality to act on that faith.
FP #22 YOSHIDA Maya (FC Schalke 04/Germany)
The key points against Costa Rica are to win points and not concede first. Whether we win or lose against Germany, the plan remains the same. This is a match we must add points to our tally. Our opponents lost badly in their previous match, and I think they will fight with a strong sense of determination. None of the matches in the World Cup are going to be easy, and all teams are going to put their pride on the line. That is why I have been preparing myself mentally for the last three days, because it is a crucial part of this game. Without a doubt, we are mentally much more at ease now that we defeated Germany, but we haven't achieved anything yet. We must not get carried away here, prepare well, and focus on winning points against Costa Rica as planned. The longer we keep the match scoreless, the more pressure we put on our opponents, so we hope that we can play to our strengths there. In order to prevent the opponents from finding their rhythm, we need to win the individual duels and possess the ball as long as possible.
FP #24 SOMA Yuki (Nagoya Grampus)
I am happy with my physical condition and the preparation I was able to put in. The situation Costa Rica are in right now is similar to Iran, who managed to beat Wales after losing their first match 2-6. They will be looking to earn three points at all costs. We will be watchful of their counterattacks while also attempting to gain the mental edge to take the initiative of the match. Winning the one-on-ones in the flanks is important for scoring goals, so I want to take on the opponents as much as possible. My teammates played a great game against Germany, and I could only support them from the bench. However, I had decided before the tournament that I would work for the team no matter what position I was in, so if I am given the opportunity to play against Costa Rica, I will show it on the pitch. I think there is a great sense of unity in the team. We can say anything to each other, and everyone, including the coaching staff, is working together to achieve the same goal.
Luis Fernando SUAREZ, Head Coach of Costa Rica National Team
Japan displayed an outstanding performance to win their opening match, so we are anticipating a very tough match tomorrow. We will have to showcase our best performance in order to obtain a positive result. We have been analysing Japan and showing their match footage to our players to mentally prepare them for the match. We cannot afford to lose this match the same way we lost to Spain. We must figure out what went wrong and make the necessary corrections to ensure that it never happens again. We need to learn from the past to become a better team. We are hoping that this match will mark a turning point for this team because I believe we have a good chance of winning.
FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™
Tournament Dates: Sun. 20 November - Sun. 18 December 2022
1st Match: Wed. 23 November 16:00 [Local Time] vs Germany National Team
2nd Match: Sun. 27 November 13:00 [Local Time] vs Costa Rica National Team
3rd Match: Thu. 1 December 22:00 [Local Time] vs Spain National Team
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