He praised Ueda’s movement, saying, “It’s a talent I don’t have, so I can see it even more clearly.When one thinks of the top players in Japan’s national team, the name of Yuya Osako (32) comes to mind. Other players like Kyogo Furuhashi (27), Takuma Asano (27), and Daizen Maeda (24) all play overseas. What makes Ueda superior to these players?
“He is outstanding in his off-the-ball movement. Even I can’t predict the timing of his start of movement or the course he will take. It’s really a very difficult thing to do, but when Ueda does it, he makes it look easy. That’s why people tend to think of him as a guy who just misses shots. It looks more flashy when he dribbles, cuts in, and shoots.
My only weakness is my feet. If you can hold onto the ball well, you can expand your range. For me, that kind of clumsiness is sometimes cute (laughs).”
He is confident that he will fit in well with Moriyasu’s tactics.
He said, “Many of Japan’s goals are scored by Junya Ito (29) and Kaoru Mitoma (25) from deep down the flanks, and Ueda is a good fit for Moriyasu’s tactics. Ueda is always looking for the back of the defender, no matter how narrow the space in front of the goal is. He is also able to make calm decisions in the penalty area. With players like this, side attacks tend to work.
Also, he often says in post-match interviews that he doesn’t think about anything, but I don’t think he is the type of player who thinks with his head, but rather moves on instinct. However, such players are not crushed by pressure on the big stage. In terms of mentality, I think Ueda is the only player who can solve the lack of scoring in Japan’s national team.”
On June 21, Moriyasu made news when he said at a regular press conference, “It is a tactic.” What does Jong Tae-se think about Moriyasu?
“I like the way he uses Ueda. He is a close-range sniper. Against Brazil, his dribbling was also stopped, but against other teams, it was almost working. I think he’s basically unstoppable. He is at a level that I don’t know how to evaluate. Honestly, isn’t he the best Japanese national team player of all time?
However, I think there is a dilemma within him. I think he has his own issues about what he needs to do to be a starter. But he would be more successful if he starts in the middle. He says to the media, “To fulfill my role,” but that is definitely not what is in his heart. If anything, I would like to see him keep dribbling like that for 90 minutes.”
Japan’s World Cup Outlook
In the Qatar World Cup group leagues, Japan will face Germany, Costa Rica, and Spain. The matchups are a combination of powerhouses, but we asked Jong Tae-se for his predictions.
“I think Japan will have a tough time even getting past the group phase, but I think they will do surprisingly well. I thought it was great that they scored four goals against Paraguay the other day, and Germany and Spain, who are in the same group, are not as strong as they used to be.
Furthermore, these two countries play with organizational strength. They do not try to force one-on-one matches, but aim to “break down the game beautifully”. If they compete with organization rather than individual ability, I don’t think Japan will be broken down that much. However, since neither Germany nor Spain will show any openings, I feel that whether or not they get the first goal will determine whether or not they advance through the group phase. I think it will be very difficult to score goals.”
On the other hand, Costa Rica, which has not attracted much attention, is a team to watch out for.
“Costa Rica is the most difficult opponent for us to play. Costa Rica is a team that is allowed to force their way through not only in an organized manner, but also with their physicality. Overall, even though the chances of advancing out of the group leagues are low, I don’t see anything to be pessimistic about.”
In July, Japan will play in the EAFF E-1 Soccer Championship against Korea, China, and Hong Kong. With less than five months until the World Cup, what will Moriyasu’s answer be to the FW controversy?