Genki Haraguchi, Japan national soccer team: “I will struggle to the end | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Genki Haraguchi, Japan national soccer team: “I will struggle to the end

11.20 Qatar World Cup Special Interview with Genki Haraguchi, Japan National Soccer Team Four years after his dramatic goal against Belgium, Haraguchi was supposed to be a key player in this year's tournament, but now his position in the national team is that of a "handy sub member. We interviewed the determination and resolve of a man who continues to fight in Germany...

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Genki Haraguchi was born on May 9, ’91 in Saitama, Japan. In 2009, at the age of 17, he signed a professional contract with Urawa Reds.’ He was selected for the Japan national team for the first time in 2011, and moved to Hertha Berlin of the German Bundesliga in ’14.’ Since the 2009 season, he has been a member of Union Berlin.

In the round of 16 of the 2006 World Cup in Russia, known as the “Rostov Tragedy,” it was Genki Haraguchi (31) who opened the scoring in a fierce match against Belgium.

After running about 60 meters from his own line, he received a through ball, swung his right foot out, and the ball was sucked into the opposite net. Many of you may remember the dramatic first goal that sent Japan into a frenzy.

The lead was extended to two goals with a goal by Takashi Inui (34), but the game was quickly tied, and Japan ran out of steam when the score was reversed in added time.

Haraguchi was 27 years old at the time. It was thought that Haraguchi would be the mainstay of the national team after the World Cup, replacing Makoto Hasebe (38) and Keisuke Honda (36), who would leave the national team after the tournament in Russia.

However, four years later, Haraguchi has not been able to carry the main cast.

His 38 appearances for Moriyasu Japan are second only to Takumi Minamino (27)’s 41, but he has also made a number of midway appearances. In the final Asian qualifying round for the Qatar World Cup, which ran from September 2009 to March 2010, he was used for his defensive ability and dedication, and was sometimes used in the closing stages of games to finish them off.

I have had many frustrating experiences with the national team,” he said. It was especially frustrating not to be able to play in the important games in the final qualifying rounds. For me, playing in games is a big part of my life. I feel stress and frustration when I don’t get to play.”

However, he has not been a smoldering player. On the contrary, during the past four years, he has entered a period of fulfillment.

He used to be one of Japan’s leading side attackers. He used to dribble against opposing defenders on the touchline, but now he has transformed himself into a brilliant inside half with a high level of tactical understanding.

The first opportunity came when he was converted to a top position in Hannover (Germany), where he played for three seasons starting in June 2006.

The coach at the time started using me in the middle. At first I said, ‘I am a side player, so let me play on the side. But he said, ‘You are better in the middle. He said, ‘It would be a waste for you to stay on the side. Then I decided to give it a real try.

Kenan Kojak decided that Haraguchi’s all-around ability, athleticism, and drive could not be kept on the sidelines.

With the conversion, Haraguchi will sign with a Spanish analyst. He decided to study inside play from the ground up, including how to find space and the angle and timing of support. Then a new world opened up.

The Bundesliga side is really competitive,” he said. As I got older, I felt I was reaching my limits. So, I took the opportunity of playing in the middle as an opportunity to face soccer again, and I felt I had to change something. When I took it seriously, I discovered the fun of playing in the middle, and I also learned a new way to enjoy soccer. Now I think that if I had switched earlier, instead of sticking to the side, I would have had more possibilities.

Union Berlin, the team he has been playing for since the 21-22 season, is one of the most tactically superior teams in the Bundesliga. They analyze their opponents, and all of their players play systematically according to a set of rules in offense and defense. Last season, the Berliners finished fifth in the Bundesliga, and Haraguchi, who plays at inside half, was at the center of their success.

Under coach Urs Fischer, I have learned a lot about how to make a team function tactically,” said Haraguchi. I was able to meet the right coach and the right analyst at the right time, and my soccer life has changed a lot. I really enjoy playing soccer now.

That’s why it’s frustrating.

He is now in his ninth season in Germany. Since ’14, when he arrived in Germany, he has been working on improving his body and running ability under the guidance of Associate Professor Satoshi Tanigawa of Tsukuba University. This was a stepping stone not only for success in the Bundesliga, but also for success at the World Cup in Russia.

The feat against Belgium four years ago, in which he ran as fast as he could and then feinted to hit a controlled shot into the opposite side of the net, was the result of these efforts.

What about your inside game, which you have been refining over the past four years? Is it all about survival in Germany, and not just about the Qatar World Cup?

No, I think everything is connected. I started building my body when I was young, I became able to move in many different ways, my tactical ability has grown, and now I can play in the middle of the field. I feel I have matured as a player more than I did in Russia, and I think I can make use of that in the Japanese national team.”

That is why it is frustrating that he has not been able to fully demonstrate the abilities he has developed for the national team.

In a match against the United States in Düsseldorf, Germany, on September 23 this year, Haraguchi was deployed on the right side of a back five in the final minutes of a lead game. This was in recognition of Haraguchi’s utility, defensive ability, and stability, but he did not hide his true feelings, saying, “I thought if I was going to play, it would be as a volante, so it was unexpected.

On the other hand, as an elder member of the team, he plays a supporting role, but he is not satisfied with such a position.

I am a player. I think it’s what I can do on the pitch. I want to help the team on the pitch. I am not at all happy if I am evaluated on my attitude off the pitch.

Haraguchi showed the keen eye he used to have when he was a mischievous boy.

Haraguchi’s second World Cup is just a month away. Some of the young players on the national team have stated that they would like to play well at the World Cup and use it as an opportunity to step up their game.

Haraguchi says he understands how the young players feel as they prepare for their first big tournament.

I myself thought that my career would open up if I played well at the last tournament,” said Haraguchi. But this second time is different. The first time I participated in the tournament, I lost in the last 16, so it was my mission to break through. I really want to make it through. I want to contribute to that goal on the pitch. I just have that sense of mission.

During the German tour in September, Haraguchi vowed, “I will struggle to the end. He reiterated his enthusiasm for the tournament.

I think I can take up a position even after the tournament starts. I think it’s about what you can do when you get out there, and you never know what will happen at the World Cup. Even if I don’t start the first game against Germany, I won’t give up. If I start in the middle of the game and get a result in the fifth or tenth minute, I don’t think it will have any more impact than that, and if I do that, I might be able to start at the World Cup again. I think it all depends on my preparation.”

In the last tournament, the regulars were set in stone in the last test match before the start of the season. And the 31-year-old veteran knows firsthand that you can only win a World Cup with a total team effort.

Haraguchi is sharpening his fangs, imagining himself playing inside, so that he can always be ready to fight and shine.

In June this year, he played as an inside half in a friendly against Brazil. He marked ace Neymar rigorously.
Taken in Germany, where he moved to.’ He expressed confidence that the experience he has gained competing overseas since 2002 can be put to good use in the Japan national team.

From the November 11, 2022 issue of FRIDAY

  • Interview and text Atsushi Iio Photo Ryu Ferkel PHOTO Yoshio Tsunoda/Afro (2nd)

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