Team Manager Tsuyoshi Otsuki – press conference after the match against Shonan Bellmare  

Comment from Team Manager Otsuki after the Meiji Yasuda J1 League 1st sec match against Shonan Bellmare

We played our first match for the 2020 season today. Because it was played on Friday and our match was the only match played today, I believe the match attracted a lot of attention. For this reason, I am very pleased that our team was able to win such a match today and gained three points. However, as for the match content, I thought it was more justifiable if we finished the match with a draw. VAR (Video Assistant Referee) was used for the first time in the J. League today. Due to a confirmation by VAR, Shonan Bellmare had a penalty kick opportunity which luckily for us was missed. Nonetheless, both teams played neck and neck and I thought a fair outcome for today’s match would have been a draw. Having said that, it was fantastic to witness Sekine scoring a goal as he did after 85 minutes into the match. I will continue to work hard with the team so that our team members can repeat such a good performance like he gave today.

Questions and Answers

Q: As for the match content, your team seemed to have struggled as the team had been pressed by the opponent team for some time. What do you think was the reason for this?

A: I think it comes down to the misalignment of the formation in the two teams. During the first half of the match, our team couldn’t have good control over the three back players of our opponent team. We missed a long ball from our opponent, and we lost a goal as a result. Following that, we managed to have better control and gained strength back for a while. However, we had a similar problem during the second half of the match. In addition, due to our outside players failing to slide down in a timely manner, our team gave an increased number of opportunities for our opponent player Suzuki (uniform No. 28) to cut in.

Q: All the teams your team has played against this year, including the ones you played against during your training camps, had a four-back system. However, I am sure that your team must have had prepared yourselves for a scenario of playing against a three back formation team. What happened between your preparation and now?

A: We had prepared ourselves for the scenario. But, I cannot deny the fact that we couldn’t execute what we had prepared ourselves for thoroughly. I think our performance during the match today was the result of that. We were lucky to have won today’s match but leant a good lesson. We would like to continue to work on our weaknesses in order to make good corrections.

Q: You may have had a chance to check the VAR footage. Based on that and the lesson you learnt today, is there anything you would like to say to your team?

A: I told my team before the match that we must carry on the match full-heartedly until the end of the match no matter what. I was excited after the judgement call was made that our team scored a goal. But, there is a slight time lag between the real action and the confirmation. I guess we just have to get used to it.

Q: It looked as though Shibato was positioned too far back and Kashiwagi seemed to have been isolated. Were their positions okay as they were?

A: Where was the ball at that time and when exactly are you referring to? Was it when our team was in offense or in defense?

Q: It was when your opponent team was pushing forward. It was when Shibato went back and stole the ball from the opponent and tried to pass it on to Kashiwagi.

A: When our side players tried to slide down, since both wings of the opponent team were widely spread, it would have made sense if our side mid-fielder slid down to cover the widely spread line of our opponent team by having five players in our defense line. However, since our intention was to have our side back players to come forward, the center area wasn’t properly covered. I trust that Shibato moved to cover the center area for this reason. This must have been the reason why there was some distance between Shibato and Kashiwagi. I will check the recorded footage to confirm the details and work with the team on improvements.

[Urawa Reds Official Media (URD: OM)]

Team Manager Tsuyoshi Otsuki – press conference after the match against Shonan Bellmare