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HOME > National Teams > NEWS > Halilhodzic hopes to make it good test ahead of Iraq match – Kirin Challenge Cup 2017 vs. Syria


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Halilhodzic hopes to make it good test ahead of Iraq match – Kirin Challenge Cup 2017 vs. Syria

07 June 2017

Halilhodzic hopes to make it good test ahead of Iraq match – Kirin Challenge Cup 2017 vs. Syria

SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) had an official practice session at the match site Tokyo Stadium on Tuesday 6 June ahead of the Kirin Challenge Cup 2017 on the following day as coach Vahid HALILHODZIC said, "I told my players to work hard with high intensity to win tomorrow's match and make it a good test," in preparation for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Asian Qualifiers Final Round against Iraq to be held on 13 June at Teheran.

Syria are "similar to Iraq in terms of aggressiveness and power," according to the Japan boss. The Middle East side play in Group A apart from Japan, standing in fourth place with eight points (W2-L3-D2) in seven matches. The scores of their wins are all 1-0 and those of the draws are all 0-0. As the losses are all at 1-0, the Syria are outstanding in defence conceding just three goals overall.

Despite following Korea Republic, who have secured top two qualifying spots without condition, by five points with three more matches remaining, the Syria side still keep hopes for the playoff spot, trailing third-placed Uzbekistan by four points. The Syria side are three points clear of fifth-placed China, the next opponents facing off on 13 June on the road.

Halilhodzic says, "It’s an important preparation for a final qualifier match against Iraq. First, it's crucial not to give up a goal."

"We need players who can be 100% ready and can cope with anything that the opponents present," the Bosnian boss adds. "We also need to see how our players’ condition is and how they will be at certain time."

The team went through their tactics behind closed doors except the first 15 minutes at the match site.

Pairing with a new central defenceman, defender YOSHIDA Maya (Southampton) quoted, "We are trying to ensure our defence ready. No matter who I pair with, we've got to improve combination ahead of the Iraq match."

YAMAGUCHI Hotaru (Cerezo Osaka) says, "What matters most when you cope with counterattacks is just not to let them do it. And first you can't give away the ball easily."

The contest against Syria will kick off on Wednesday 7 June at 7:25 p.m.

Coach's and Players' Comments

Vahid HALILHODZIC, Coach of SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team)
It’s a test match tomorrow for the Iraq match six days later. We selected Syria for this as they are similar to Iraq in terms of aggressiveness and power. It’s an important preparation for a final qualifier match against Iraq. We are saying we will make sure to tackle this well. In our 10-day preparation, we went through various programs by getting into various groups and working out separately. Our players playing in Japan only did some recovery stuff since they joined the team after their match on Saturday. But as a team we had a good amount of training and discussions. 

It’s a preparation for the Iraq match, so we need to get ready to organise ourselves in several different ways. We also need to see how our players’ condition is and how they will be at certain time. There are several obstacles for us to play a good game including fatigue, injuries and the lack of recent match experience. Our players are doing well and creating a good atmosphere. There are some injuries, but I am telling them that now and here it is the important one. Once we win against Iraq, we will be able to play in a little more relaxed manner in August and September. 

Every time, I call up new players, but I call up the ones who are in good form at each given moment. It doesn’t mean they will immediately get to play. It’s rather a message to all saying how I want Japan to develop considering two years later.

FW HARAGUCHI Genki (Hertha BSC Berlin)
The Iraq match is the most important one. Tomorrow’s match is a rehearsal for that. So I hope we can make sure things both offensively and defensively. The offensive combination needs to be improved more. Attacking individually is a strength, but it’s the combinations when you play against good teams. So we want to try out many things.

DF SHOJI Gen (Kashima Antlers)
It’s a home match tomorrow. We can never afford to lose. We want to have good results and good details. Me personally, I have got myself ready for this. So if I can play as I usually play with Kashima, it will automatically be a good showcase. I am proud of what I do in J.League. I think our coach has high expectations, so I want to make sure to play well enough to meet them. 

DF MAKINO Tomoaki (Urawa Red Diamonds)
It’s a simulation for the Iraq match. Every single player needs to show how good we can play in order to take advantage of the chance given. Our coach is insisting that we will keep the clean sheet for the next two matches. We want to defend well as a team, and we defenders are aiming at zero goals to allow. We want to move on to the next match after getting good results here.

DF YOSHIDA Maya (Southampton FC)
We will play this match as we are eyeing Iraq. Keeping that in mind, we want to start off defending well. Syria has many good players upfront, so we need to deal with them effectively. I expect we will have a long stretch possessing the ball, so I think we need to move the ball with a good pace to break them down. It’s a very good thing to have a young centre back on our team. I want him to take advantage of this chance and I think I should find things to learn from him as well. 

MF KURATA Shu (Gamba Osaka)
What I can do is keep running and running in defence and, when getting the ball, push it up with speed. I want to perform well in those areas. Every single play in every match and every practice is a battle for me and there’s only slight difference between good and bad. So I feel like I need to show everything I can do at this point as a player.

MAHMOUD ALYOUSSEF, Coach (Syria National Team)
Tomorrow’s match is a preparation opportunity for both teams for the matches coming up soon. It’s also a very meaningful match for us. We want to get adjusted to the climate difference between here and the Middle East, test everybody we have on the roster and learn many things in the match against such respectable opponents like Japan. Our defence is solid, but we want to make it even better. I hope tomorrow will be a big step forward ahead of the match against China.

JFA-TV (Japanese version only)

  • HARAGUCHI Genki (Hertha BSC Berlin/Germany) Interview

  • SHOJI Gen (Kashima Antlers) Interview

  • YOSHIDA Maya (Southampton FC/England) Interview


Sun. 28 May PM Training
Mon. 29 May AM/PM Training
Tue. 30 May AM/PM Training
Wed. 31 May AM/PM Training
Thu. 1 June AM/PM Training
Fri. 2 June AM/PM Training
Sat. 3 June AM/PM Training
Sun. 4 June AM Training
Mon. 5 June PM Training *
Tue. 6 June 17:00
Official Conference (Tokyo Stadium)
Official Training (Tokyo Stadium)*
Wed. 7 June 19:25 KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2017
vs Syria National Team (Tokyo Stadium)
Thu. 8 June AM Training
Fri. 9 June PM Training
Sat. 10 June PM Training *
Sun. 11 June PM Training *
Mon. 12 June TBC Official Conference
Official Training (PAS Stadium) *
Tue. 13 June 17:00 ASIAN QUALIFIERS
vs Iraq National Team (PAS Stadium)

*Local Time
*The schedule is subject to change due to the team condition, the weather, etc.
*Open to the media for the first 15min.


2017-6-7 (Wed.) 19:25 kick off (estimated time)
SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) vs Syria National Team
Tokyo / Tokyo Stadium

More Information


2017-6-13 (Tue.) 16:55 kick off (estimated time)
[Japan Time: 2017-6-13 (Tue.) 21:25 kick off (estimated time)]
Iraq National Team vs SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team)
Iran / PAS Stadium

More Information


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