Japan's national football team is gearing up to 'deal with anything' in the forthcoming Asian Cup, targeting a historic fifth title. The team's coach, Hajime Moriyasu, stressed the importance of adaptability in his squad ahead of the tournament that kicks off on January 12 in Qatar. The Samurai Blue have been on an impressive winning streak, with eight consecutive victories including significant triumphs over Germany and Turkey.
Preparations and Squad Selections
Moriyasu has announced a 23-man roster for a preparatory friendly against Thailand, scheduled for New Year's Day in Tokyo. This selection features 15 players from overseas clubs, including the likes of Monaco's Takumi Minamino, Borussia Monchengladbach's Kou Itakura, and Feyenoord's Ayase Ueda. However, it does not include English Premier League stars such as Liverpool's Wataru Endo and Brighton's Kaoru Mitoma. These players are expected to join the squad for the main tournament.
The team's selection also sees the first-time call-ups for Sint-Truidense attacker Ryotaro Ito and FC Tokyo goalkeeper Taishi Brandon Nozawa. Despite the absence of players from British, Italian, or Spanish clubs for the friendly against Thailand, the inclusion of players from French, German, Belgian, and Dutch clubs manifests Moriyasu's approach of building a versatile and robust team.
Physical, Tactical Preparation, and Robust Mentality
While physical and tactical readiness are essential, Moriyasu highlighted that developing a strong mentality to overcome challenges, including injuries, is just as crucial for his team. The upcoming friendly against Thailand is viewed as a key opportunity for Japan to gear up for the Asian Cup and the subsequent World Cup qualifiers. The coach stressed that his team must be prepared to 'deal with anything' and 'grow with each match.'
Asian Cup: The Road Ahead
Japan has been drawn into a group with Indonesia, Iraq, and Vietnam for the Asian Cup, aiming to better their last performance where they lost 3-1 to Qatar in the 2019 final. The team has shown their formidable strength by continuously defeating many big teams, including Germany and Spain. However, the potential absence of their star player, Tomiyasu, who plays for Arsenal and is currently nursing a calf injury, could pose a challenge.
Nevertheless, Japan's national football team remains a strong contender for the Asian Cup title, with many experts predicting that it will not be difficult for them to secure first place in the group and advance. The Samurai Blue are not just looking at the immediate prize but also using this tournament as a stepping stone for upcoming World Cup qualifiers.