Kubo Takefusa, once regarded as one of Japan’s greatest soccer treasures, is now in doubt about his place in the national team. In his fourth season in the Spanish League, Kubo moved to mid-table club Real Sociedad on a five-year contract. In the 28th round of the Spanish League (August 8, vs. Getafe), he scored his sixth goal of the season, breaking the record for the most goals scored by a Japanese in the Spanish League. He is proud of himself, saying with a smile, “It is not the same for a Spaniard to score six goals as it is for a Japanese player to score six goals.
He was not in the starting lineup for both games against Uruguay on March 24 and Colombia on March 28, the first games of the “new Moriyasu Japan” squad. Some even suggested that Kubo should be a member of the national team for the Paris Olympics coming up next year.
I am a different person now than I was at the World Cup,” he said.
He was always full of confidence. Kubo was the youngest player in the team to be called up for the two international matches in March, the first for the new Moriyasu Japan. Expectations were high for the youngest player in the team, as he had scored three goals and provided three assists for his club since the World Cup last December, but he was forced to sit out the first match because he did not test “negative” for the new coronavirus in a simple test for Japan conducted immediately after his return to Japan.
Then, before the second game against Colombia, Kubo made a rare appearance in front of the media. Before the second match against Colombia, Kubo made an unusually bold statement in front of the media.
I am a different person now than I was at the World Cup. （My presence is obvious, and if you look at my condition alone, I’m one of the best three players on the team.
However, he was given the starting spot by Takuma Nishimura (Yokohama FM), and started the second half from the 14th minute. As the leader of the attacking lineup, he tried to move the game along by dribbling and passing, which is his forte, but he and his teammates could not find their rhythm at the crucial moments. In the second half, he was unusually agitated by an opponent’s foul in added time.
I was frustrated because I wanted to help the team as soon as possible. I am not the kind of person who usually lashes out…”
Perhaps his impatience with his delicate position in Moriyasu’s Japan team came out in his actions.
Kubo’s strongest position is at the top of the lineup. He is often the “king” of the team, creating goal-scoring opportunities with his passing and dribbling, and is often the kicker on set pieces. He is the “king” of the team, as exemplified by Shunsuke Nakamura (current coach of J1 team Yokohama FC) in Japan’s recent national team.
Kubo even spoke of a “top-down theory” during a media briefing between the two international matches.
In a 4-2-3-1, you have a player who is given a certain amount of freedom. That player can make a difference on the ball and peel off one or two opposing players. That’s my ideal player.”
He has confidence and pride. He has been able to get results at Real Sociedad, where he moved this season, because he is entrusted to play in the top half or as one of the two attacking midfielders. The difference between Real Sociedad and the clubs he played for in the past four seasons is that Kubo has been given “a certain amount of freedom” this season.
I want to achieve something with the national team.
Kubo’s performance in Spain has not been bad. One of the main reasons for Kubo’s success this season has been his excellent chemistry with the 37-year-old David Silva, one of the World Cup-winning eleven of the 2010 Spanish national team. This month, the Barcelona-based sports newspaper “Mundo Deportivo” featured Kubo on its cover under the headline “Vitamin K” of Sociedad. Kubo himself said before the start of the season, “David Silva and I are both left-handed. I am trying to steal a lot from him. I am very happy to move to Sociedad.
Unfortunately, David Silva is not in the Moriyasu Japan squad, which, after a successful World Cup run in Qatar, has adopted a 4-3-3 formation with no top-row players. Moriyasu Japan, which requires a committed defense as a prerequisite, has given less priority to Kubo, who needs “a certain amount of freedom” in order to show his ability. Kubo is now treated as a reserve.
On the other hand, “We can set up a lineup with the assumption that Kubo will be used at the top position. Many people may say, “Kubo has that much potential,” or “It is a matter of coach Moriyasu’s ability that he cannot use him in the national team. However, Kubo, who will turn 22 on his birthday on June 4 this year, has played 22 games for the A team and scored once, and is a strong candidate for Moriyasu Japan’s next “number 10,” along with Takumi Minamino, who was not called up for Japan’s two international matches in March, and Shinji Kagawa, who was Japan’s number 10 at two World Cups (Brazil and Russia). Shinji Kagawa (C Osaka), Japan’s No. 10 at two World Cups (Brazil and Russia), played 29 games for the A team and scored nine goals by the time he turned 22 years old. Unfortunately, he has not yet had the numbers to “put Kubo at the center of the team.
In a national team where winning is a prerequisite, it is no wonder that Kubo is not a mainstay of the national team,” said a former national team alumnus.
Kubo Takefusa’s physical weakness was repeatedly pointed out by Kenta Hasegawa (now manager of J1 Nagoya), who coached Kubo during Kubo’s time at FC Tokyo in the J-League from 2005 to 2007, who said at the time, “There is nothing outstanding about Kubo Takefusa. Before the World Cup in Qatar, national team coach Moriyasu also commented, “Kaoru (Mitoma) started most of the time as a midfielder at his club, but he won a place in the starting lineup (before the World Cup). （Like Hasegawa, Moriyasu also said that Kubo Takefusa’s inability to win the trust of his club was due to his weakness .
The two men, coincidentally, also acknowledged Kubo Takefusa’s excellence with the same comment, “Kubo Takefusa ‘s ball technique is something to admire. Still, there is a possibility that Kubo will never shine in Japan’s national team. An alumnus of the national team who is close to Moriyasu said, “I don’t think Poichi (Moriyasu’s nickname) will let Kubo play like a king by using him in the top-down position he plays for his club. I think Nishimura (Yokohama FM), who is muddy and just chases the ball, is the ideal second-line player for the kind of soccer Poiti is oriented toward. Kubo should concentrate on the Olympic team,” he said.
There was a god who picked up on those words. It is Tsuyoshi Oiwa, 50, the coach of Japan’s U-22 (under-22) national team, which is aiming for the Paris Olympics next year. Oiwa, who observed the World Cup in Qatar last year, said, “Kubo’s performance at the World Cup deserves recognition. （I hope he continues to do what he is doing at Sociedad (his club ). He is in close communication with Moriyasu about Kubo’s call-up to the Olympic team, and he continues to send love goals to Kubo as he prepares to play for the team at the Paris Olympics.
After the World Cup in Qatar, Kubo said, “If I get a chance (to play in the Paris Olympics), I would consider it. I want to accomplish something with the national team,” he said after the World Cup in Qatar. In August 2009, when the team finished fourth in the semifinals of the Tokyo Olympics, losing to Mexico for the first time in 53 years, Kubo, who was 20 years old at the time, sobbed in public, saying, “I have never been so disappointed in all my years of playing soccer. If the team competes in the Paris Olympics, they will be able to take revenge for that defeat.
Moriyasu will be traveling around Europe at the end of April to inspect the overseas teams. If Kubo directly requests that he concentrate on the Paris Olympics, the day when he becomes “king” of the Olympic team will soon become a reality. It is not too late for Kubo to become the “king” of his age group and then compete for the A team. ……