Team Manager Oswaldo Oliveira – press conference after the match against Vegalta Sendai  

Comment from Team Manager Oliveira after the Emperor’s Cup JFA 98th Japan Football Championship final match against Vegalta Sendai

I am very pleased. I have been having a good biorhythm in Japan and have been leading a very comfortable life. I have been able to lead a good routine. I would like to congratulate everyone who was involved for winning the championship today.

Questions and Answers

Q: I trust the match turned out to be a very difficult match for Urawa Reds today. Were you expecting that the team would have such a hard match? What kind of things did you talk to the team about during half time?

A: The match become a very special match. I must confess now that I couldn’t sleep well last night. We had six players who were injured. There were six players who would not have been part of the team under normal circumstances. One of them, namely Maurício was not able to participate in the match today. Muto had some pain and I could not decide whether he should join the team or not. I decided that he would be one of the starting members when we got to the locker room today.

Aoki dislocated his elbow during the semifinal match against Kashima Antlers. He was one of the players who wouldn’t have played in the final match originally. However, he had received round-the-clock treatment and had managed to play in the match with a protector on his elbow. Perhaps, he was not in the situation where he was able to fulfill his true capability. However, he played the match with some restriction such as not to utilize his arm. Under such a circumstance, he played for nearly 100 minutes. Given we had two minutes of additional time during the first half and five minutes of the additional time during the second half which was further extended, he played heroically for about 100 minutes.

Both Koroki and Kashiwagi wouldn’t have played originally but they did by sacrificing themselves. During the semifinal match, we had three players injured namely Koroki, Muto and Aoki. As a result, their conditions were very restricted, but they had pulled out highly accurate and well-disciplined performances today. I would also like to thank all the staff members who made this possible. Everyone worked so professionally to follow the direction I asked them to.

Q: As a result of having many injured players, Urawa Reds played a defensive match today. Were you planning this would be the case before the match today?

A: I had thought that we would play defensively due to many restrictions. For this reason, I would like to commend the team for their discipline. They had followed my instructions well. Everyone had sacrificed themselves today in order to fight through until the very end of the match.

Q: While your team had many injured players, you said the other day that Urawa Reds’ fans and supporters would give your players the power to go beyond their limits. What did you think of the cheering and the environment your team’s fans and supporters created to give strength to the team today?

A: Their presence had a decisive factor today. Their enthusiasm for supporting Urawa Reds made it possible for our players to go beyond their limits. Our players were able to exert more than 100 percent into the match definitely thanks to the fans and supporters. They came to cheer us not only today at the stadium but also to the Ohara Soccer Field yesterday to motivate our players. When we arrived at the stadium today, they welcomed us in a great manner. I told the team about the expectations our fans and supporters have for us. I am sure that enabled them to pull out a great performance and to win the title today.

Q: You only spent a short period of time with Hirakawa but what was your impression of Hirakawa?

A: He was an exemplary player. I had told the club that he should remain in the club under a different role for the sake of Urawa Reds after his retirement as a player. Characteristically speaking, he is very sincere and has a great personality too.

Personally, I met him at the very end of his career. But, I remember his great performance during his peak period from 2007 to 2011. He was a very important member of the team during this season. He played an important role in shaping good communication amongst players. He was also a great example for the team during training sessions. In addition, he approached young players often to help calm them. He was an excellent individual.

Q: You joined the team mid-way through the season and the last match of the season has now finished. What do you think you did to rebuild and strengthen the team which made winning the title of the Emperor’s Cup possible?

A: Firstly, I needed to motivate the team. Looking at the way players were engaging themselves in their training sessions etc., I was under the impression that their motivations were a little low. I sensed remissness from some of the players as well. Their performance level suffered during the second half of the match and they were often caught up by their opponent or not able to come from behind.

When I came to join the team, the team was playing a series of match. For this reason, I worked with the team for about nine matches in a row without any break. During that period, I was not able to change many things drastically. However, since when we had our summer camp training in Shizuoka, we had more time. For this reason, I worked on improving not only the physical aspect of our players but also some tactical points as well.

Q: As a result of winning the Emperor’s Cup today, Urawa Reds won the ticket to play in the AFC Champions League next season. What do you think of playing in the Asian arena? Could you also comment on what aspect the team developed the most after you came to the club as the team manager?

As for what improvement the team made, as I mentioned earlier, it was important for the players to be confident and to be in a motivated state. In addition to those two points, they needed to improve their physical strength at the same time. If their physical condition is not good, they won’t be able to achieve the strategies I instruct them to do and won’t be able to improve their performance as a result.

[Urawa Reds Official Media (URD: OM)]

Team Manager Oswaldo Oliveira – press conference after the match against Vegalta Sendai