Team Manager Mischa – press conference after the Emperor's Cup semi-final match against Kashiwa Reysol  

Comment from Team Manager Mischa after the 95th Emperor's Cup All Japan Football semi-final match against Kashiwa Reysol

Today’s match was such a difficult match for us to play. First of all, the match schedule was challenging. We started the season in January this year and finished our league matches at the end of November which was then followed by Championship matches. After we finished the season we had about a month break before we started playing for the Emperor’s Cup. It was difficult for us to remain focused and to maintain our sense of tension during the season. It was challenging for us to play two matches with only two days break in between at this time. However, having said that, the situation was the same for other teams as well.

Towards the end of the season, players start to think about their breaks. When this is the case, it hasn’t been easy for me as a team manager to keep their concentration and sense of tension to prepare well for official matches through training.

All four teams that made it to the semi-finals namely Sanfrecce Hiroshima, Gamba Osaka, Kashiwa Reysol and Urawa Reds are great and strong teams. Playing against such formidable teams will be very tense as we never know which team will win. Playing such kind of match twice with only two days in between won’t be easy for both teams. I would like our spectators to fully understand the challenges we have with our match schedule in this regard.

During the matches we play, we often make the first attack then we receive counter attacks from our opponent team players in their defense. Today’s match was no exception. The match unfolded as we made attacks against Kashiwa Reysol while they tried to steal the ball from us to make counter attacks against us when we made mistakes. Given the fact that players are suffering from fatigue and the match was a knockout tournament competition, a small mistake could have been fatal. However, our players performed well by keeping themselves calm. They also created a few good chances as well.

There were several opportunities where our team could have scored some goals before extra time. Our players made a few mistakes as they had to play two matches over a short period of time at the end of the season. Nonetheless, they had a strong determination to rise above until the very end. The fact that our team was able to win the match by scoring a goal during extra time not only shows our players’ strong determination to win but also suggests that we perhaps had luck on our side today.
[Urawa Reds Official Media (URD: OM)]

Team Manager Mischa – press conference after the Emperor’s Cup semi-final match against Kashiwa Reysol