Even His Coach Was Surprise! How did a Shy Kaoru Mitoma Conquer the World Cup?! | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Even His Coach Was Surprise! How did a Shy Kaoru Mitoma Conquer the World Cup?!

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In the 44th minute of the second half of the match against Australia on March 24, a draw would mean that the team’s World Cup berth would not be extended, and Misumi scored the long-awaited first goal in the middle of the game. He also scored a second goal, giving him two goals in six minutes (photo: AFLO).

Japan’s national soccer team played Australia away from home on March 24, winning 2-0 and securing a berth in the World Cup for the seventh consecutive year. Kaoru Mitoma (Saint-Giroudes, Belgium), 24, came on in the 39th minute of the second half and scored two shocking goals. His ability had been highly regarded even before he became a professional player, but he was not able to play in the tournament where he was expected to play well due to his poor condition, and his “weakness to compete” was conspicuous. In the big game, the thing that Mitomo had been secretly pursuing came into full bloom.

The World Cup would be decided if they won the match. When Misuzu scored the final goal just five minutes into the game, the University of Tsukuba juniors were in the middle of their graduation ceremony (a party to send off their seniors).

Mitake scored two goals!”

Instantly, the room was filled with a thud.

It would have been best if I could have seen it in real time.

His former coach, Shosuke Koido, smiled wryly and said, “I thought it was typical, or rather, a great feat. He is very confident, as you can see from his expression.

He was pleased to see the growth of his favorite pupil, with whom he has continued to communicate after graduation, including having the opportunity to have dinner together to report on the current status of their relationship.

He said, “When I was in college, I was asked to do a lot of things. I was often wary of him because he was a Mitake, and I couldn’t let him show his full potential. This became clear when he joined Kawasaki Frontale after graduation, and his confidence grew. After that, I think he was worried about playing overseas, but he is doing it with confidence. Rather than being surprised that he could do such a thing, I have the impression that he is well prepared.

It was Misuzu, who was once called a “weak competitor,” who led Japan to its seventh consecutive World Cup appearance.

Perhaps the most significant growth has come in the area of “confidence,” as coach Koido puts it.

Looking back, Misumoto has always been in pursuit of “having confidence. When he graduated from high school, he was asked by his club to be promoted to the top level, but he never had the “confidence” to play in the pros.

I still want to grow.”

The answer he came up with on his own was to enter the University of Tsukuba. He felt that he still needed more experience to gain the confidence needed to play professionally.

Once he entered the University of Tsukuba, he made every effort to gain confidence by practicing one-on-one, his greatest weapon, with his classmate Satoshi Yamakawa, who was to join Vissel Kobe, on his own every day for four years. He grew into such an outstanding player that Tsukuba University at the time was likened to “Tactical Mitsumoto.

However, although he achieved tangible results such as the league’s top scorer and top assister, and experienced team titles in his first and second years when he was competing with his seniors, the team did not win any titles in his third and fourth years when he was expected to play a more central role.

He said, “I didn’t have the growth curve I had envisioned.”

At the time, Misuzu was clearly struggling between his ideals and reality.

In July of his junior year, he decided to return to Kawasaki Frontale, but his activities outside of the university did not help him gain confidence. Hoping to play in the Tokyo Olympics, Misuzu was named to the Japan national team for the Olympics from its inception in his third year at university, and participated in his first tournament, the 18th Asian Games in 2018. The team won the silver medal at the Games, but Mitoma was incomplete when he fell ill during the competition.

‘Mituma is not a match-winner.’

Point and point stumbles. Somewhere along the way, I began to hear voices like that.

In the future, I want to be selected for the Japanese national team and become a player who can play overseas, but right now I feel both anxious and hopeful that I can start.

He was unable to build up a solid confidence. Kaoru Mitsumata’s words, uttered just two years before his graduation from the University of Tsukuba in 2020, must have been his true feelings without any pretense.

However, it is needless to say that his fears before joining the professional ranks proved to be unfounded. Since joining Kawasaki, she has scored 13 goals, tied for the most in J1 history for a rookie. He struggled to improve his condition at last summer’s Tokyo Olympics, but it was Misuzu who scored the team’s only goal in the third-place game against Mexico. After the tournament, he made his long-awaited move overseas and made his debut for the A national team last November. He steadily worked his way up the ladder.

In the final match of the tournament, which would decide the team’s participation in the World Cup if they won, Mitsumata sank two shocking shots, sending the whole of Japan into a whirlpool of joy. The gap between his ideal and reality, which he had struggled with, and the struggle to fill it and turn it into confidence, which he had worked so hard to achieve with his friends, came to fruition in the big game. However, Misuzu himself will not be satisfied with this result. This is not the end of the story. The “growth curve” that he is drawing for the future will be beyond our imagination.

  • Interview and text Yukihiro Kodama

    Born in 1983. Born in Shima City, Mie Prefecture. After working for a sports newspaper, he has been working as an editor for Kodansha's soccer website "Gekisaka" since 2011.

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