Coach Hajime Moriyasu is on the verge and his mentor is ‘bitter’! “Why don’t you call Muto? | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Coach Hajime Moriyasu is on the verge and his mentor is ‘bitter’! “Why don’t you call Muto?

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Sendai manager Hidehiko Shimizu gives instructions to Japan national team manager Hajime Moriyasu, who was a current player, during a match (Photo: Getty)

The Japan Football Association has announced the 27-member squad for the final Asian qualifying round for the World Cup in Qatar to be held on November 11 and 16 next year.
The Japan Football Association has announced the 27 members of the final Asian qualifiers for the World Cup in Qatar, which will be held on November 11 and 16 next year. The top two in each group will qualify for the tournament, and Japan is currently ranked fourth. If Japan loses both of their away matches against Vietnam on November 11 and Oman on November 16, there is a high possibility that moves to dismiss coach Hajime Moriyasu will surface again. One of his “bosses” is Hidehiko Shimizu, 67, who won a total of 82 J.League games. Mr. Shimizu believes that the match against Oman will be a major turning point in the final qualifying round, and he expressed his growing sense of crisis, saying that “neither the team nor the Japanese soccer world will be able to make it through the New Year” if they are eliminated.

With six games remaining and not a single loss in sight, the Japan Football Association has called up four more players than the maximum number on the bench. The sense of crisis was palpable, but Shimizu’s view was harsh.

He said, “This team doesn’t have a leading scorer. I thought it would have been interesting to invite Yoshinori Muto (who moved to Kobe from Newcastle in England this summer and has scored five goals in ten games). It’s true that the Japanese national team may not have an absolute striker. But there are players in Japan who can score goals right now. Muto is one of them, and Kyogo Furuhashi, who was selected for Japan’s national team (in the Scottish league), has the atmosphere to score goals.

Muto (right) has become a goal-scoring machine since joining Kobe this summer. Muto (right) has become a goal-scoring machine since joining Kobe this summer, but was not called up to the Japanese national team (Photo: Afro)

The position of ace striker is occupied by Yuya Osako, 31, who played seven and a half years in the German Bundesliga and joined Kobe at the same time as Muto, helping the team to the last 16 of the 2018 World Cup in Russia and being heavily used as an ace by coach Moriyasu. However, he has only scored one goal in seven games for Kobe, where he has been playing since August, and only returned to action for the first time in about a month on November 3 after being injured in a match against Australia on October 12. Even so, Moriyasu called him into the national team.

He said, “According to Poiti (Moriyasu’s nickname), he will probably use Osako for the match against Oman on November 16. With almost two weeks to go before the game, I’m sure he’ll be ready.

 Osako is a great, great player. But after the last tournament in Russia, I was wondering if he would be the ace again in Qatar.
He certainly has first-rate skills to be able to contain the ball and be the point for the next attack. But he’s not an absolute striker. When I was an active player, I was in the last line of defense or volleyball. If I may speak from that perspective, FW players who just keep the ball in their hands are not scary to the opponents. One of the reasons why the Japanese national team is struggling in the World Cup final qualifiers is because they lost their first game at home against Oman on September 2.

If you’re a player who can score, after your season in the second division with Bremen is over, another club in Germany or Europe will go for you, no matter what. I’m sorry to make comparisons, but the only reason he’s still at the top of his game is because he always scores goals. Soccer is all about scoring goals, right? When you score a goal, I think it gives momentum to the team.

Muto, who was not called up this time, has not only scored five goals, but has also recorded seven assists, and is always involved in goals. Furuhashi, who moved from Kobe to Scotland to replace Muto, also scored a goal and assisted another in the match on April 4, and has scored 13 goals in official matches since his move.

When introducing a player who can keep scoring goals, there are some things that can be explained by saying, “This is specifically good,” and there are some things that cannot be explained by that logic alone,” Shimizu said.

“He is of the opinion that using players with a sharpened sense of goal-scoring ability on a priority basis is a shortcut to victory.

“So, in the match against Vietnam, which will be held five days before the Oman match, the young and energetic players should be used aggressively to rush for goals and give the team momentum. I’d like to see more of that. In defensive positions close to our own goal, we have veterans such as captain Maya Yoshida and Yuto Nagatomo, and they always play at least 80 points at worst.

Osako (left) and captain Maya Yoshida (right) are trusted by coach Moriyasu. Will Moriyasu’s compassion turn out to be a good thing or a bad thing?

The reason Shimizu speaks so frankly and harshly is not because he dislikes coach Hajime Moriyasu. Rather, it is the bond between the two that lies at the root. When Shimizu was the manager of Kyoto and Sendai, he recruited Hajime Moriyasu as a player when he was still active. Shimizu recalls.

Shimizu recalls, “When I was manager of Sendai, we went to Hiroshima for the Emperor’s Cup game. I heard that Poiti, who had returned to Hiroshima from Kyoto, was waiting for us in front of our lockers, so I called out to him and said, ‘Hey, how are you? That’s when I felt it. That’s when I felt, “Oh, my contract with Hiroshima is over. That was the moment I decided to invite Poiti to Sendai and work with him again.

Coach Moriyasu also remembers this moment clearly.

“I went to Mr. Shimizu to ‘job hunt’ (laughs). I went to Mr. Shimizu for job hunting (laughs). I wanted to learn from him.

After graduating from high school, Mr. Moriyasu joined the Mazda Soccer Club, the predecessor of Hiroshima, but he was unable to work at the head office, a sign that he was a major player. “As a high school graduate, he worked hard and was selected for the Japanese national team when the J-League started in 1993, sparking a soccer boom. He failed to make it to the World Cup, a long-cherished dream for him as a player. Shimizu continues.

“I never thought Poitiers was technically good. But he is a serious, greedy, hard-working man who piles up everything he can while getting covered in mud. In order for a team to win, it is better to have as many wild and super players as possible, but on the other hand, without guys like Poichi, the team will not come together. When I invited him to Sendai, I was convinced of something. I knew that he was the kind of guy who could be a manager someday. I was going to recommend him to Sendai as the next manager after me. But it didn’t happen because I was fired from Sendai.

A man who is trusted by his coach is also a man who trusts his players to the utmost and cannot betray them. This can be seen not only in his decision to call up the injured Osako for four more spots than usual, but also in the call-up of 22-year-old defender Kenyou Tomiyasu, who has become an indispensable part of Japan’s defense.

Moriyasu did not call up Tomiyasu for the defeat against Oman on September 2. This was because Tomiyasu was in the midst of negotiations with Arsenal, one of the most prestigious clubs in England, and he needed to be in the country. The decision to forego a game in favour of a player’s personal career is not one that a national coach would normally make, as his own job is at stake with every win or loss. Without Tomiyasu, Japan lost against Oman.

“That’s why I want to say this. I want to say that the players who have been selected now have to do more because the coach trusts them so much, and they can do it. The coach is the one who takes responsibility for the team’s results. This is especially true for the national team. But in the end, it is the players who play. Please don’ t misunderstand that,” he said, expressing his hopes for the national team.

We need to score a lot of points against Vietnam and win the match against Oman with all our strength. That would be a perfect 100-point result for Moriyasu Japan in the final qualifier in November. If that happens, and it will, then not only will the World Cup be out of sight before the final four qualifying matches, but both Moriyasu and the Japanese soccer world will be on the edge of their seats.

“Will we make it past New Year’s? I’m sure they will. That’s why the next two games will be crucial. That’s why the next two games are crucial. We’ve been hurt at home. All the people who know Poitiers are rooting for them with all their might. I’m sure Poichi will live up to that.

Manager Hidehiko Shimizu (center) and Japan national team coach Hajime Moriyasu (to Shimizu’s left), who were both active players at the time, watch the players exercise during their time in Sendai (Photo: Getty)

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