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HOME > SAMURAI BLUE > ASIAN QUALIFIERS - ROAD TO RUSSIA [6/13] TOP > NEWS > SAMURAI BLUE hold training to review tactics behind closed doors


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SAMURAI BLUE hold training to review tactics behind closed doors

11 June 2017

SAMURAI BLUE hold training to review tactics behind closed doors

On Saturday 10 June, ahead of the Final Asian Qualifiers of the 2018 FIFA World Cup against Iraq, SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) held their second day of training in the host city of Teheran. The team aligned their start of practice with the kick-off time of the coming match at 5 p.m. in the evening. However, still under the scorching sun, the weather was extremely hot with temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius showing no indication of cooling off. The meeting prior to training was held indoors and the team reviewed the tactics to be employed for the Iraq match and exchanged ideas to share a common vision of contesting the important away encounter.

After showing up on the pitch, the players started their practice with running and physical exercises to loosen their bodies, before they closed the doors for further training.

Defender NAGATOMO Yuto (FC Internazionale Milano), who felt discomfort in his right adductor muscle during running on the previous day, jogged and worked out separately with a physical trainer. However, midfielder YAMAGUCHI Hotaru (Cerezo Osaka), suffering from a right calf injury, did not recover for training outdoors and rested in the hotel.

The coming Iraq match on the 13th will take place in the neutral location of Teheran due to domestic unrest in the hosting country. In recent years, Japan National Team have travelled to Teheran and played matches twice in 2015. The Japanese squad faced Afghanistan in their Second Asian Qualifiers and won 6-0 in September and had international friendly with Iran and drew 1-1 in October. However, the current conditions in June are far different from what they have experienced previously and much severer showing no signs of heat cooling off in the evening when the coming match is scheduled to begin.

In regards to the local weather and conditions, defender SAKAI Hiroki (Olympique de Marseille) commented on the importance of making the right assessment of each situation, ‘Players are the ones who feel the local climate. Ninety-minute of play passes by quickly, and we need to communicate with one another on the pitch and make the necessary adjustments accordingly.’

Furthermore, MAKINO Tomoaki (Urawa Red Diamonds) added, ‘When to make the challenges becomes important. Chasing for the ball will be tough. We need to play smart and let the opponents run after the ball.’

Players' Comments

DFSAKAI Hiroki (Olympique de Marseille)
Hot and dry weather and high atmospheric pressure are some of the concerns here. However, we have no choice but to play under these difficult conditions. I believe we are up to this challenge. We are better off scoring first and taking the initiative to put our opponents under pressure, than conceding first and trying to comeback by scoring two goals. Covering one another as a team will become important and, in order for us not to concede any goals, we need to challenge the opponents in every location of the pitch starting from the furthest from our goal to stop their advances. After 90 minutes, the team with more goals wins the match. Our ultimate goal is to earn three points and that is exactly what we will be aiming for.

DFMAKINO Tomoaki (Urawa Red Diamonds)
Displaying one’s strength and performing well in the given time and position are required as a professional footballer or a national-team player. Currently, the team have many injured players and, thus, we need to come together as one team. It will certainly be crucial to figure out how to cope with Iraqi players’ individual strengths, but more importantly we need to get acclimatised to the local conditions. It is significant also that the team review and share where each player will challenge the opponent individually as well as how the team will defend as a whole. It really comes down to who will take the leadership in the match to call out when to be patient, string passes or stay back and enable us to share a common vision on the pitch. Not depending too much on individual effort in defence, but defending as well as attacking as a whole team will be important.

MFKATO Kohei (PFC Beroe Stara Zagora)
Considering that I have played in far worse pitch conditions where the cleats cannot even penetrate through the ground, the current environment is not a huge concern for me. I have been preparing myself to be ready for the game, and if given the chance to play I will simply perform as I normally do. I acknowledge my current position in the national team and the circumstances that I wasn’t given the chance to play against Syria. I found the need to work hard in training and make strong appeals to my coach as well. I will practise harder than my peers to one day earn a spot in the starting line-ups. As a team, we need to display our brand of football and prove that we are the better side on the pitch and win the match before returning to Japan.

FWHONDA Keisuke HONDA Keisuke (AC Milan)
In these hot conditions, we need to take control of match and decide when to attack and defend. I believe experience is required to perform well. We have an unexpected number of young players as well as newcomers in this squad and how we approach the game will be important. The coach may say ‘we need to swiftly hit on the counter’, but we cannot overwork and get fatigued. We have to find ways so that the opponents will run and cope with our attacks as well. We have mental battles we need to win here. I also believe there are many things I can do for the team before the match and during the match as well.


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 1-1 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.


2017-6-13 (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

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