Team Manager Tsuyoshi Otsuki – press conference after the match against Kashima Antlers  

Comment from Team Manager Otsuki after the J League YBC Levain Cup Quarter-finals 1st leg match against Kashima Antlers

I would like to apologize to our many fans and supporters who came to the stadium today for showing a disappointing match in the first half of the match. It was one thing that we lost the goals, but it was another how our players behaved including how they showed their emotions on their faces. It was very disappointing.

Our team scored two goals during the second half. Nonetheless, we lost the match today. Though we lost the match today, we want to work hard to redeem ourselves in the second leg match by making the most of the two goals we scored today.

Questions and Answers

Q: Your team’s performance was great during the second half of the match. What do you think went wrong during the first half of the match for the team to perform such a
disappointing match?

A: We lost our first goal after the restart of the match. Since the cup match is played under the home and away rules, we played more cautiously when the match restarted. I trust that this had affected our players’ confidence. During half time, I told our players that we shouldn’t perform like we did in our uniform in our home stadium. I didn’t just ask them to deal with their emotions only. But, it was a real pity that what we had been working for as a team was not achieved today as a result of the little emotional swings our players had in their minds.

I regard this as part of the issues we have as a team. For this reason, we would like to work hard to correct this and improve ourselves by using this negative result to bring something positive to ourselves.

Q: Looking at the team’s recent performance as well as how differently the team performed during the first and second half of the match today, it seems as though the team struggles a little when they play a closed match. When they play an open match, the players seem to do better while taking more risks. What do you think of such differences?

A: It may be worth reviewing our team’s performance to see how they play both open and closed matches since I became the team manager. It is good to have an open match if we have a good intention. However, if we play an open match and if it starts to backfire, we’re better not to play an open match. As for Kashima Antlers, while they play a cautious game, they are capable of making their opponent team to play more openly. I am not suggesting playing an open match is better but when we play an open match, there are many more spaces created. When players kick long balls and have the match quickly restarted with an intention, it is possible to have a more open game. I do understand what you are trying to say in your question. I would like to think more about our approaches regarding this.

Q: You used Maurício in the right three back position for the first time today. What was your intention?

A: We tried this during our practice sessions. Since he is not bad, I decided to use him in that position.

Q: Did you use him in that position with the intention of containing the opponent team’s left side by taking advantage of Maurício’s height?

A: No, not really.

Q: You mentioned earlier that you were disappointed of how your players behaved after they lost the goals today. I guess you had the choice of changing the players during half time. However, you didn’t. How did you deal with them during half time before they started the second half of the match?

A: I told them off very hard during half time. No one would let them go without saying anything hard. But, in the end, I said to them that I told them all I needed to tell them and I expected them to redeem themselves through their performance rather than replacing them with other players. I sent our players off to the pitch by asking them to do a good job with the starting members.

Q: You mentioned that you are hoping to overturn the result in the second leg match. Reflecting back on how your players performed today in the first leg match, what do you expect from your team in the second leg match?

A: By taking today’s result and the fact that our opponent team would probably have different starting members next time, I believe that we will adjust our starting members accordingly. Since we have a few days before the next match, we will spend the next few days to work out the optimal balance, the best balance to win the next match.

I believe giving our players a pep talk and boosting their psych may improve their performance. This will create a good foundation for our players. But, to go beyond that, I must make sure that our players can fulfill their potential by utilizing their physical capabilities. I must try to work out how I can get the most out of our players. I said earlier that our players had a disappointing performance during the first half of the match. But having said that, they performed really well during the second half of the match today. As such, I would like to spend the next few days to bring out and strengthen their potential to move forward.

[Urawa Reds Official Media (URD: OM)]

Team Manager Tsuyoshi Otsuki – press conference after the match against Kashima Antlers