Team Manager Mischa – press conference after the match against Kashima Antlers  

Comment from Team Manager Mischa after the Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance 2016 J. League Championship final first leg match against Kashima Antlers

We had expected the match to be a very tough one as two very strong teams were going to fight against each other. The match was a tough one for us to play in terms of the schedule as well since we had nearly one month off since we finished the J. League season matches on 3rd of November. It would have been ideal for us had we been able to play the match only three days after our last match. Considering the schedule, we had to play the first leg match under a very difficult condition.

It has also been 17 days since we played the Emperor’s Cup match against Kawasaki Frontale on 12th of November. During the past 17 days, we looked for a few teams that we could play practice matches against. However, as most of them are already on holiday, we were only able to play a few practice matches against university teams. Though our team had two practice matches against two university teams, because our players had to play under enormous pressure and tension over the long course of the season, I guess our players were feeling their conditions went back almost to zero mentally and physically.

I have been working as a team manager for over 22 years but I have never experienced having to play an official match scheduled as we have recently experienced. For this reason, I had to fumble my way in guiding the team to be in good condition. The preparation process leading up to today’s match had been a challenging one as I had to work out how I could best inspire the team during practice and how I should talk to the team to maintain their tension and concentration.

As for Kashima Antlers, since they had to play the semifinal match just over a week ago, I thought they were advantaged in terms of having a better condition to play today’s official match. However, despite all those challenges, Urawa Reds players had good concentration and discipline from the beginning of the match today. Our team was able to control our opponent team’s offensive by not allowing them to create many attacking opportunities. Having said that, I thought they struggled to make good attacks against our opponent.

Our team had managed to move the ball forward to our opponent’s penalty area. However, they were lacking in quality, precision and calmness in terms of handling combination plays, finishing moves and last passes.

Nonetheless, it was a positive outcome that we were able to win the away match today with the result of one to zero. Our team was able to regain a sense of tension after having played the match today. For this reason, I trust that our players would be able to play the upcoming second leg match in a calmer manner as well as executing their ball handling and combination plays when making attacks.

I take pride in believing that our team had the most stable performance during this J. League season by scoring 74 points in total. We will play the second leg match with confidence in order to win the title and prove the points we have scored are deserving of us to be the champion.

We must prepare ourselves extremely well for the final second leg match which will take place in four days’ time. We must welcome the day with a strong determination to win as Kashima Antlers is a team that can always pull out their strength in challenging times to produce a surprising outcome.

There is no doubt that it will be a big mistake if we think we are in a better position now that we won today’s match with a result of one to zero. Looking back at how our team played today’s match, I cannot say that we performed well. If anything, we weren’t exerting our true capability during the match today. There is no way that we would be able to achieve the result we are after for the upcoming match if we do not prepare ourselves really well.
[Urawa Reds Official Media (URD: OM)]

Team Manager Mischa – press conference after the match against Kashima Antlers