Coach Moriyasu wary of Troussier's understanding of Japanese football

By Lam Thoa   January 13, 2024 | 03:00 pm PT
Coach Moriyasu wary of Troussier's understanding of Japanese football
Coach Hajime Moriyasu speaks at a press conference in Doha, Qatar, ahead of the Asian Cup's clash between Japan and Vietnam, Jan. 13, 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Thoa
Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu insists that having Philippe Troussier in charge is already an advantage for Vietnam in the two sides' clash at the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.

"Troussier used to be the head coach of the Japan national team, so he understands us very well," said Moriyasu of his predecessor in a press conference on Saturday.

During his tenure at the Japan national team from 1998 to 2002, Troussier impressed with his European style of football, leading the side to the quarterfinal of the Sydney 2000 Summer Olympics, the 2000 AFC Asian Cup title, and the knock-out stages of the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

However, Moriyasu remains confident of his understanding of Vietnam as well and his ability to go all the way to the Asian Cup crown with a squad oozed with quality.

"We want to be the champion. But of course, we have to take it match by match," said Moriyasu. "The fans have high expectations for us. Our country was recently struck by an earthquake, and I believe if we play well, it can be a remedy for those who suffered."

Midfielder Wataru Endo also affirms that the Japanese players are trying their hardest to win the tournament and hopes their good performances can be a source of encouragement for the earthquake survivors.

Twenty of the 26 Japanese players traveling to Qatar are playing in Europe. Many have already made a name for themselves, such as Ko Itakura at Borussia Monchengladbach, Takefusa Kubo at Real Sociedad, Wataru Endo at Liverpool, or Takehiro Tomiyasu at Arsenal.

Another notable face, Brighton star midfielder Kaoru Mitoma, has not been able to train normally.

Moriyasu said he understands Mitoma’s wish to play, but the coaching staff will have to carefully assess his fitness before deciding if he can play against Vietnam on Sunday.

Mitoma’s fitness might not cause coach Moriyasu too much of a headache considering his squad’s depth, quality, and form. The team are riding high on a 10-game winning streak and on an impressive scoring spree, even against strong opponents like Germany (4-1), Turkey (4-2), Syria (5-0), and Jordan (6-1).

Five Japanese players feature in the Eurosport’s predicted Best XI of the 2023 Asian Cup, while Opta also gives Japan a 24.6% chance of winning the competition - higher than any team.

Japan are the Asian Cup’s most decorated team with four titles. They are currently ranked 17th in the FIFA Men’s World Ranking - also the highest of any team in the competition, and 77 places above Vietnam. Japan have never lost to Vietnam at international level with four wins and one draw.

The Japan and Vietnam match will start at 6:30 p.m. Sunday (Hanoi time) and will be reported live on VnExpress International.

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