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


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SAMURAI BLUE hold training to review tactics for second straight day behind closed doors

12 June 2017

SAMURAI BLUE hold training to review tactics for second straight day behind closed doors

On Sunday 11 June, SAMURAI Blue in preparation for the Final Asian Qualifiers of the 2018 FIFA World Cup against Iraq in two days held training to review tactics for the second straight day behind closed doors.

Under clear skies but scorching sun and heat with temperatures heading north of 39 degrees Celsius, the players arrived at the training ground. In the meeting on the pitch, coach Vahid HALILHODZIC explained the objectives of training and instructed the salient points of each drills before they started their practice.

Defender NAGATOMO Yuto (FC Internazionale Milano), who worked out separately on the previous day, joined the team practice after running. Field players went through physical training with stepping drills and sprint workouts, followed by passing and kick-up exercises with limited number of touches in groups of five. Meanwhile, three goalkeepers worked on improving agility by catching the ball facing the kicker from short distance and lobbed ball coming from both sides repeatedly in succession.

Midfielder YAMAGUCHI Hotaru (Cerezo Osaka), who had to train separately in the hotel due to injured right calf, came to the training ground for the first time in three days and went through a series of exercises centred on running apart from his teammates. On the third day of training camp in Teheran, all twenty-four members of the Japanese squad came on to the pitch for practice.

Thereafter, the team roughly spent two and a half hours to review their tactics for the Iraq match thoroughly behind closed doors. 

Being the current leaders of Group B with three games remaining, Japan will come very close to securing a place in the 2018 World Cup Russia with a win against Iraq. On the other hand, Iraq aimed for the World Cup qualification for the first time since 1986, but missed the chance for the international competition with only 4 points (1 win, 5 losses and 1 draw) and 12 points adrift from three top teams sitting on 16 points.

Some of the notable players in the Iraqi squad are scorer of equaliser against Japan and forward SAAD ABDULAMEER, midfielder AHMED YASEEN GHENI (AIK/Sweden), who provided an excellent delivery from a free kick to assist the mentioned goal, left fullback for Udinese in Serie A (Italy) and defender ALI ADNAN KADHIM, and veteran forward ALAA ABDULZEHRA with over 100 caps for the national team.

Midfielder KONNO Yasuyuki (Gamba Osaka) stayed cautious ahead of the game by saying: ‘I’ve heard that there is a quality left fullback in the Iraqi squad. There are many players with unique talents upfront as well. We cannot be focused on taking only care of certain players. We need to keep it tight for the entire 90 minutes.’

In the previous encounter in the third match of the Final Asian Qualifiers last October, Japan against Iraq, who employed a highly defensive formation and attempted to hit on the counter, stayed patient and composedly stringed passes to create a scoring chance for HARAGUCHI Genki (Hertha BSC Berlin), who opened the scoring in the 26th minute. After conceding a goal from a set piece and allowing the opponents to level the match at the hour mark, Yamaguchi fired in a decisive goal for the Japanese team just before the final whistle to secure a win.

Goalkeeper KAWASHIMA Eiji (Football Club de Metz) braced himself and stated, ‘Under these tough conditions, tactics are not our only concern. We need to be mentally tough and be prepared in every aspect of the game as well.’

The match will be held at PAS Stadium from 16:55 (local time) on Tuesday 13 June.

Players' Comments

As our coach indicated, we need to play smart in these hot conditions. If we constantly strive to go forward, then we will simply get fatigued. Iraqi players have strength on the ball as well as defenders who are physically strong. They string effective passes as well. The performance in the match against Syria was better than that of Thailand or UAE, but what really matters is the upcoming game. While looking to exploit the space behind the backline, I will try to coordinate my efforts well with my teammates.

DFSAKAI Gotoku (Hamburger Sport-Verein)
Motivation level changes from having an away or home game and, thus, I expect a completely different contest. We arrived early in Teheran and players are now getting more acclimatised to the local conditions. They are getting in better form and I believe our form will improve further as we get close to the match. Therefore, I want not only our physical condition to be in prime form, but also our mentality to be fit to play for the coming Iraq match as well. I think there will tough stretches and during those times it will become important for the team to take the initiative, play tough, display resilience and evade those menacing challenges without conceding. There are certain aspects that are quite difficult in away games, and we need to be careful how we enter the match.

MFKONNO Yasuyuki (Gamba Osaka)
It is difficult for myself to accurately evaluate my form and, thus, I let others decide it. Rather, I’d like to focus my effort in training and do my best there. I believe Iraq match will be a difficult one as well. Syria were tenacious, but Iraqi players were even tougher on the ball. We only had few occasions where we stole the ball upfront against Syria, and if we can do more against Iraq, then it will become important for us to make swift transitions. Furthermore, we are practising on defending collectively as well.

MFYAMAGUCHI Hotaru (Cerezo Osaka)
Iraq are likely to come out quite aggressively, and they have the advantage of playing in this environment with familiar ground conditions. Against the opponents who will play to their strengths, if we simply stayed back to cope their attacks, we are going to get annihilated. I believe my requirements on the pitch, if I were to get the chance to play, are to show strength on the ball and win back possession, and those are exactly the kind of plays I am expecting to have in the game as well. Learning from the Syria match, we would like to make the necessary adjustments prior to the match. I believe I am recovering well from injury, and now I have to wait for my coach to make the final decision. Meanwhile, I will work hard and make the best preparation possible.

GKKAWASHIMA Eiji (Football Club de Metz)
In the limited time with new players and different combination of those players on the pitch, some of the important things for us are not to make simple errors or give away easy chances and have a clear intent on each one of our plays. The opponents are fully capable of hitting us on the counter or scoring from set pieces and, thus, we need to maintain a high level of concentration and take cautionary measures as well. In these hot conditions, there will be players who lose their concentration, and it becomes important that if we find such player, we encourage him to keep his focus on the pitch, in addition to players adjusting to such situations. Furthermore, we cannot allow the opponents to win those crucial moments in the game 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.


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

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