Team Manager Oswaldo Oliveira – press conference after the match against FC Tokyo  

Comment from Team Manager Oliveira after the Meiji Yasuda J1 League 34th sec match against FC Tokyo

Good evening everyone, or should I still say good afternoon around this time? I would like to talk about a few things today not limited to the match we had today. But, firstly, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to you for your wait as well as apologies for my late arrival.

We had a retirement ceremony for Hirakawa today. He worked hard for the club for a long time. We had a great ceremony for him today that measured up with his great contribution to the team. We get moved when we see a player retire. This is particularly the case, when a player who wore the same uniform for a long time like him retires.

I think soccer players are the only ones who die twice in their lives. The obvious one is when they finish their life but the second one is when they retire from their career as a player. This explanation shows you how significant it is for a soccer player to retire.

With regard to the match we had today, it was of a very high quality, but also a tough and difficult match. Our opponent players performed well and had created a lot of good opportunities. It was fortunate for us that we were able to nail the goal scoring opportunities we had created.

Playing on the pitch today we had players who hadn’t played in a match for a while as well as those who had returned after recovering from their injuries. When it is difficult to outdo the opponent team with techniques, it is important for players to outdo their opponent with their determination and guts. We were able to win the match today thanks to the great efforts made by our players who were on the pitch today. We would like to dedicate today’s victory to Hirakawa.

Questions and Answers

Q: Could you tell us why you chose the players you chose today and how you evaluated the performance of those new players?

A: The reason for my selection was obvious. As we will be playing the Emperor’s Cup semi-final match on this coming Wednesday (5th of December), our players could be playing for 120 minutes. In order for our players to be in as great condition as possible, I wanted to give those players who were exhausted and are still recovering from their injuries enough time to rest. When a team has only one fresh player, it doesn’t affect the team’s over-all performance much. However, when there are five or six different players like we had today, the team sometimes struggles in its performance. For this reason, our players worked very hard today. They showed their gutsy spirit and overcame their challenges well.

Q: I believe the second goal the team scored provided a great momentum for the team. Did it result from self-directed actions of the players or did you give them specific instructions?

A: We certainly suggested our players that it would be a good idea to reset the game at an early stage. Having said that, what made it really possible was Kashiwagi’s calm and wise handling of the situation. As for Kashiwagi, in my original game planning, I was thinking to replace him with Nagasawa after 45 minutes into the match. However, I decided to have Kashiwagi in his position longer than what I originally planned as our team was struggling in the middle. As a result, our team was able to score another goal thanks to Kashiwagi being the originator of the goal.

Q: How would you summaries the J. League this season?

A: The J1 League this season had a number of teams with high levels of skills. When I came to Japan, Sanfrecce Hiroshima was running at the top by a big margin. However, while Hiroshima could not maintain its position, Kawasaki Frontale won the title in the end by accumulating winning points by adding value to their style of soccer. I think Kawasaki Frontale was the best team of the season and they are worthy of their victory. Apart from those two teams, there are several great players in FC Tokyo, Cerezo Osaka and Nagoya Grampus.
For all those reasons, we were able to play high-level matches during this season. I see the level of Japanese soccer as a whole is improving. In fact, Japan is exporting soccer players to overseas’ teams. The national team is also getting stronger. I think there will be a bright future for Japanese soccer.

Q: What do you think needs to be changed for the coming season?

A: It is important for us to have a good plan and follow the path we planned to achieve. It is also important for us to strengthen the team and increase the number of players who can be on the pitch as our options. We need young players like Hashioka, Ogiwara and Shibato. We can increase the number of capable young players through our training. I also would like to acquire new players from other teams to improve our quality. We cannot build a competitive team just by having eleven good players.

Q: How would you evaluate the performance of Ogiwara and Shibato today?

A: They are very young and are becoming used to the type of soccer we play. They are maturing and gaining flexibility as well. They did a good job today. Looking at their performance in details, they made some mistakes due to lack of experience. However, experience cannot be gained if they don’t play on the pitch. I am confident that they will develop into players who can make great contributions to our team by also gaining knowledge through practice and playing in matches.

There is one more thing I would like to talk about. This is for our fans and supporters.

Every soccer team has different characteristics and Urawa Reds is no different. As for us Urawa Reds, we are blessed with great fans and supporters. Urawa is also a city where soccer is alive. We are lucky to be in the environment where our team and our fans and supporters can move forward together. This relationship is inextricable. I believe them being there for us affects very positively on the physiological state of our players. Every time I come to Saitama Stadium, I am deeply moved.

As for the preparation towards the Emperor’s Cup semi-final match on Wednesday, we will have Tuesday as our practice and travel day. The practice we have a day before our match is usually closed for the media as well as for our fans and supporters. However, we would like our practice session open this time so that many fans and supporters can come to see us and we can also receive positive energy from them for the upcoming semi-final match.

On Tuesday, we would like to invite the media and our fans and supporters to see our practice. I would like to ask our fans and supporters to bring banners and rooting flags to bolster our players. I trust that the efforts our players make running on the ground will give power to our fans and supporters and our players will receive power from them in return. I would like our players to feel this reciprocal benefit.

When our players will be on the pitch on Wednesday, they will have a heightened awareness that they are playing together with our fans and supporters. I trust the opportunity we will have the day before the match will make the feeling stronger.
Thank you all for your kind attention.

[Urawa Reds Official Media (URD: OM)]

Team Manager Oswaldo Oliveira – press conference after the match against FC Tokyo