U-20 Japan National Team announce squad ahead of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Argentina 2023™
09 May 2023
On Monday 8 May, the U-20 Japan National Team squad for the FIFA U-20 World Cup Argentina 2023™ was announced.
Head Coach TOGASHI Koichi started the press conference by saying, “We have received tremendous cooperation and support from many people, especially from the J.League teams and universities, for which we are truly grateful.” The coach continued to share his enthusiasm by commenting, “The tournament will be an invaluable learning experience for the players.”
The squad consists of players who have fought through the AFC U20 Asian Cup Uzbekistan 2023 in March, which also served as the qualifier for this World Cup, plus two newcomers, CHASE Anrie (VfB Stuttgart) and FUKUI Taichi (FC Bayern Munich), who both play in Germany. In addition to the 20 players announced, one more player is expected to be added to the final squad.
Coach Togashi, who had to make a difficult decision in the selection process as the number of registered players was reduced by two from the Asian qualifiers, revealed that the most difficult factor was “positional balance,” and shared his thoughts on the two players playing in Europe as follows:
“The team will need to be stronger, faster, and better than when we played in Asia. In that sense, the competition the two players are currently playing is definitely closer to the World Cup level,” suggesting that by adding two players who are competing abroad will help raise the overall level of the team.
The team's goal is to become the world champions. This goal was set by the players when the team was first launched. Coach Togashi has long said that “Even when they play against strong countries such as France and Argentina, today's players don't feel that they are inferior to them. They have grown up in an environment where playing abroad has become the norm, so setting a goal of winning a world championship is nothing out of the ordinary for them.”
Their goal is not just a pipe dream, given the fact that Korea Republic finished as runners-up in the previous World Cup four years ago, after beating Japan in the Round of 16. The team will enter the tournament with high expectations, but also with an awareness of their challenges, as coach Togashi added, “We are fully aware that it isn’t going to be easy.”
The team will leave Japan on 11 May and travel over 24 hours on a flight to Argentina. They will hold a training camp there in the run-up to the tournament, play their final training match against the U-20 Argentina National Team on 15 May before playing their first group stage match against the U-20 Senegal National Team on 21 May.
“Even if there are some rough edges, I want them to grow and develop so that the viewer can imagine how exciting it will be to watch them compete in the FIFA World Cup™ in three years' time.”
The battle of the young samurais who will carry the future of Japanese football is about to kick-off on the other side of the world.
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