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HOME > SAMURAI BLUE 2018 > NEWS > Coach Moriyasu of SAMURAI BLUE seeking to show improvements of the team at KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2018


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Coach Moriyasu of SAMURAI BLUE seeking to show improvements of the team at KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2018

16 November 2018

Coach Moriyasu of SAMURAI BLUE seeking to show improvements of the team at KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2018

On Thursday 15 November, one day ahead of their match against the Venezuela National Team at the KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2018, the SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) held an official training session at the match venue, Oita Stadium. At the official press-conference, Coach MORIYASU Hajime mentioned that, “I am looking for my players to showcase their individual colours and heighten the overall quality of the team.”

The coach evaluated his team, who started its camp on Monday, “The players are showing great attitudes towards building on the foundation we have laid thus far. They are also showing eagerness to show a great performance against Venezuela.”

Regarding the young trio, MINAMINO Takumi (FC Red Bull Salzburg), NAKAJIMA Shoya (Portimonense S.C.), and DOAN Ritsu (FC Groningen), Coach Moriyasu stated, “The experienced players are supporting the team to allow the young attackers to showcase their full potential. I want them to continue on that aspect.”

The official training session held in the evening was open to the media for the first 15 minutes as the players were seen warming up by jogging and passing the ball around, while the goalkeepers were conducting their own drills. The session was then held behind closed doors as the team went over their team tactics for the upcoming match.

Nakajima who mentioned that the “Team’s atmosphere is great,” also shared his take on the match, “This match is an important match ahead of the Asia Cup and we must heighten the overall level of the team through this match.” Regarding the opponents, he continued to state, “South American teams can defend with an attacking approach, so we must play with flexibility.”

Japan has a head-to-head record of one win and two draws against Venezuela, but the one win came from a disqualification of their opponent in 2014, when Venezuela allowed a suspended player to play in the match, and the match itself went 2-2. The two teams drew 0-0 in their first encounter in 2010 at Oita, while drawing another match 1-1 in 2012 at Sapporo.

Currently, the Venezuela National Team is led by Coach Rafael DUDAMEL, who led the U-20 Venezuela National Team to finish as the runners-up at last year’s FIFA U-20 World Cup. The coach has been taking the helm of both the U-20 and the top team since 2016. The top team has not appeared in the World Cup yet, but they are currently ranked 29th in the FIFA ranking, where Japan is ranked 50th. In their recent international friendlies in September, they have lost to Colombia 1-2 while winning against Panama and UAE with a score of 2-0 in each win.

Coach Moriyasu kept alerted that, “Venezuela consists with great individual power, but at the same time, they are well organised, and the players has a great understanding of the team tactics.”

The squad arriving in Japan consists many young players like Sergio CORDOVA (FC Augsburg) and Yangel HERRERA (New York City), who excelled at the U-20 World Cup, along with veterans like Salomon RONDON (Newcastle United) and Tomas RINCON (Torino) in each position.

Coach Dudamel showed his confidence prior to the match, “Our strengths lie on our youthfulness, techniques, and speed. We are capable of making the adjustments according to our opponents.”

Doan, who faced the Venezuelan side at a U-20 tournament held last year, “I personally do not want to lose against them. I really want to pay them back and win the match.”

The match will kick-off at 19:30 on Friday 16 November at Oita Stadium.

Coaches and Players' Comments

MORIYASU Hajime, Coach of SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team)
The coach of Venezuela National Team is looking over both the top team and the under-age category, so the tactics are well understood by their players from a younger age. Not to mention their discipline. They are a very well organised team who can perform well as a team. I am thinking of playing a similar line-up from our match against Uruguay. During this camp, the players have shown great concentration and eagerness to build on the foundation we have laid thus far. They are very willing to showcase a great performance in the match against Venezuela. The young players are playing with great aggression, while showing that they can also play as a team. However, it is important to keep an option to change the dynamics of the match, either by switching gears or to slow down the pace. We will try many options and attack in ways to make our opponents feel uncomfortable.

GK #1 HIGASHIGUCHI Masaaki (Gamba Osaka)
It has been three months since Coach Moriyasu took the helm, but we have built many combinations in our attacks, while polishing up the qualities of each of our options. We are quite confident in our attack, but we still must improve on our defence. We have assigned ourselves with a task from each match played, and once we clear each of these tasks, we should be able to showcase an entertaining football. After watching yesterday’s press-conference of KAWAGUCHI Yoshikatsu, who announced his retirement, it left a strong impression when he mentioned that he still wanted to play as a goalkeeper. It really made me want to finish my career in the same way.

MF #10 NAKAJIMA Shoya (Portimonense S.C./Portugal)
I am really looking forward for tomorrow’s match. I feel like I could have done a better job in our previous match against Uruguay, so I will try to polish up on the small details in our match tomorrow. We will try to fulfil our job the attackers. We will assist and score goals when we can. Venezuela is capable of applying strong pressure in defence and initiating their attacks from the defence line. We will be facing players with great physiques, but as long as we play together as a team, we should be able to create chances. If we can’t find ways to create our opportunities, we will be forced to play defence, so we must make the adjustments accordingly on the pitch.

FW #15 OSAKO Yuya (Werder Bremen/Germany)
Venezuela is a very strong team, but we have played against many strong teams in the past, so we are quite confident heading into this match. As long as we prepare ourselves well, we should be able to showcase a good performance. I will continue to challenge myself and prepare ahead of the match.

Rafael DUDAMEL, Coach (Venezuela National Team)
Japan is a team with great quality and they have shown their excellence at the recent World Cup in Russia. We are very honoured to be playing against such team. The match against Japan will require us to play with great quality, and this is a great opportunity for the Venezuela National Team, who is in the process of developing the overall level of the team. Following our runners-up finish at the U-20 World Cup, the expectations from the people of Venezuela has been growing. By mixing up the young players with the veterans, we will strive to heighten our overall strengths and build a team that can play at the World Cup.


Mon. 12 November PM Training
Tue. 13 November PM Training
Wed. 14 November PM Training
Thu. 15 November PM Official Training
Fri. 16 November 19:30 KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2018
vs Venezuela National Team (Oita Stadium)
Sat. 17 November PM Training
Sun. 18 November PM Training
Mon. 19 November PM Official Training
Tue. 20 November 19:20 KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2018
vs Kyrgyz Republic National Team (Toyota Stadium)

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

Official Training Session

Official Press-Conference

  • Interview of OSAKO Yuya (Werder Bremen/Germany)

  • Interview of ENDO Wataru (Sint-Truidense V.V./Belgium)

  • Interview of SAKAI Hiroki (Olympique de Marseille/France)

Fri. 16 November 19:30 Kick-off
Oita Stadium, Oita
SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) vs Venezuela National Team

Match Information

Tue. 20 November 19:20 Kick-off
Toyota Stadium, Aichi
SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) vs Kyrgyz Republic National Team

Match Information

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