The day before the first quarter final on 15 July-Team Manager Finke  

Comment from Team Manager Volker Finke on the day before the Yamazaki Nabisco Cup first quarter final against Shimizu S-pulse
Since we are going through a difficult situation, it will be difficult for us to have three matches over eight days. Nonetheless, I would like to prepare ourselves for the match as well as we can in a positive manner. The fact is that many players in our team find it tough to play three matches over eight days. At this moment, nothing is decided in terms of our starting line-up members for tomorrow’s match.
This is because many players still have a “question mark” against them. However, there is one thing that I would like to say to our fans and supporters who will be cheering us tomorrow. Regardless of who will be the starting line-up members tomorrow, we will make every effort tomorrow to achieve a good result. This will be my promise to you.
Of course, there will be a second match. Considering this will be the case, it is not necessarily guaranteed that we can go to the semi final even if we win the match tomorrow. Nonetheless, we would like to have a good result before we play in the second leg. Having said that, we would not like to play recklessly so that players will not get injured. Since the team will play in another match on Saturday, as the team manger, I must take the Saturday match into my consideration as well.
I should also think about the summer climate in Japan. It is getting very hot now. I think hot weather like this can have some kind of impact on us when we play in a match. However, it is important for players to be able to play and run solidly for ninety minutes. It is also important for players to be able to switch from defense to offence.
For this reason, it is a real pain for us that Keisuke Tsuboi and Naoki Yamada who are excellent when it comes to running and good recovery are away at the moment. In the hot summer weather like we have, players like them will be such valuable players for us as they are able to run around well for 90 minutes and can switch quickly from defense to the offensive.
As the Nabisco Cup is held during the J. League intermission period, we have not had our main players. As such, we had different members in the team to play in the past three consecutive matches. However, I think we were able to show good performance in our home stadium. I would like to do my best so that the team can give the best performance as possible tomorrow.
Having said that, since some players are still suffering from their injuries, it will be very difficult for us to have our best members for the match. I watched the away match Simizu S-pulse played against Gamba Osaka. I thought that they were playing excellently. I also thought that they are a strong team. In particular, the two forward players were functioning well. I believe those two players, namely Okazaki and Johnsen are one of the best two-tops in the J. League at the moment. As this is the case, it is necessary for us to prepare ourselves well. It has already been proven that they have strong attackers.
I think that our next opponent has very good momentum. I get real pleasure when we can play against such a team and the match we will have will most likely be a fascinating one.

(Keita Suzuki left the pitch during training. Why was that?)
During the game style practice, he performed an aerial play. However, when he landed on the ground, he collided with an opponent player and hit his back. I am not sure if he can play in the match tomorrow. If he can recover very quickly, it will be possible for him to play in tomorrow’s match. But, if he continues to suffer from pain, unfortunately he will play the match held on Saturday but not the match tomorrow.

(Can you comment on the new player who joined training?)
He is a very young player. I gave him the chance to participate in our training for fourteen days. I would like to see what he will be like. However, I cannot say much about him. The only things I can say is that he is from Africa and he is 18 years old. He is from the same country as our coach Tanko is from. But, I have no intention of talking anything more about him.
This is because we have no idea how his participation in our training will be. It may bring a positive out come. But, it may not. Under such circumstances, if many things are reported, there will be a high possibility that his participation will end unsuccessfully.
For this reason, I would like you to understand as a matter of common practice in the football industry that I will not make any further comment about him. Especially he is now only participating in our training. I would like you to understand this.
There is one more nitpicky thing I would like to mention. If you find out about what kind of person or player he is and what kind of background he has through your network and report your findings in the media, the news will be covered sensationally in his country as well. As I have lots of experience working with African players for a long time, I can tell you that it will be difficult for us to acquire players from Africa when this happens. When the story of this player participating in our training is reported sensationally in Africa, people often try to do all sorts of things behind the scene to get business out of this, which makes it impossible for us to acquire the player. Considering the situation and the football industry’s common practice in Africa, please do not report on this player sensationally at this moment.
This is one thing I wanted to convey to you. I do understand you must do your job as journalists. However, if you think of Urawa Reds in a positive manner, please do not try to find out his name or report on his past personal history. Based on the experience I have in the football industry, many people who are not originally involved will try to involve themselves to get business out of it once this type of news is reported in the home countries of the players. This is especially the case in Africa.
For this reason, now matter how capable players were, we often could not acquire those players because their news was released in advance.
There are no details we will tell until we know for certain that we will get the player. So, please refrain from making big news out of this.
This is because the club does not have enough budget in order to get very famous and expensive players like it used to a while ago. This was the request I wanted to ask of you and I wanted to make my point clear to you. Looking at the football sphere around the world, famous clubs such as Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Barcelona are in all over Africa. They get various types of information from many different sources in a bid to discover talented players who have great potential.
For this reason, when such news reaches them such major clubs will come to the players so that they can acquire them. In order to acquire talented players in Africa, what is discussed among personal networks and in the industry becomes a lot more important than what is available in public. As this is the case, when our story is picked up by the media in a sensational way, it will definitely appear in the home country of the player as well. And when this happens, nothing can move forward. Worldly famous clubs will be chasing the player as well. For this reason, please do not report on the news too much in order to avoid such a scenario.
This is the only favor I would like to ask of you. There is only one thing that you need do to help me in this regard. If anyone of you find out about the name and the personal history of the player and makes it public, I will not talk to the writer for a year (lol). I am sure you know I am half joking here (lol). If I were a writer, I would probably think that I do not need to talk to the team manager about this and I am going to feature the story anyway (lol).

(There will be a U-20 Japanese National team football match in Korea this August. Am I right in assuming some of your players will be requested to join the team?)
What is most important is what the Japan Football Association is after. I must find out if taking the match title is their top priority. Or, are they hoping to help young players to develop further so that they can perform as well as they can in the J. League and each different category is set up for this reason? I think things will be decided once we know what the Japan Football Association thinks about this whole thing. I would like to continue to communicate with the team director of each category directly.
I do not think it is necessary for you to feature what I say in a big way. But, please take a look at our team members. We have already released our players for Team A. In addition to those three or four players in Team A, if we need to send three players to the U-20 and one player to the U-18 categories, that adds up to be eight players in total. I am sure you can understand we will be having a tough time, if we have to release this many players to the association.
On top of that, the schedule for these three categories sometimes overlaps. For this reason, I would like to make the decision based on my understanding of the intention of the association. Having said that, I would not like to comment on this type of thing here. I think it is important for us to talk with each other directly by looking at each other’s faces. I will certainly try to communicate with them in a friendly manner. By talking directory with the team manager of each category, we can understand each other’s situation well so that we can make the best decision for players.

(You were talking with Mr. Takeshi Okada, Team Manager of the Japan National team before the match against Sanfrecce Hiroshima.)
I cannot make any detailed comment about that. However, as a basic rule, it is natural for a team manager of a club to talk with the team manger of the national team about the current national team players. Just the other day, I asked Team Director Okada how he regards the national team players from Urawa Reds and how does he assess their situations. At the same time, I told him what I think of them as the team manger of the club. I think it is important for each of us to exchange information. We can get valuable and useful information for each other by talking directly with each other. For this reason, I would like to continue to keep exchanging information. It is very important for both of us to understand the situation of current and potential national team players.
I think it is great that Team Manager Okada can speak English. I can talk to him over the phone if necessary as he can speak English. We do not have to have big planned meetings or organize interpreters in order to speak to each other. I think it is such a big benefit that he speaks English.

(How was it that the trainee player came to join the team training?)
I have a good African network that I have built up over the long time including our coach Tanko. I also watched the last three Africa Nation’s Cup in Africa. If you are working for a small club and the club cannot afford several millions or billions of dollars for player acquisitions, it is important to go to countries where other clubs do not often go in order to discover good players. As this is the case, I have visited several different countries such as Tunisia, Ghana, Mali, Burkina Faso to discover good players over the last 15 years.
It is also important to get to know many people who are involved in the industry when you visit a different country. Another important thing is that you make a good connection with such people so that you can talk to them directly anytime you wish. It is also necessary for you to be able to speak several different languages such as English or French.
When you establish a good relationship with concerned local parties and can get various types of information, you can acquire local players for a relatively reasonable cost. When such players develop their potential well after your acquisition, you may be able to sell them to bigger clubs. If you can do this, you may be able to bring huge amounts of cash to the club.
I needed to come up with this type of method. When you try to acquire players, there are two different types of methods. One way is to check out each country to find the best player and pay several millions or billions of dollars to get such a player. This is done by the most financially well established clubs all around the world. Another way is to get players who play for small clubs rather than major clubs. However, in order to do so, it is necessary to know the local people concerned. It becomes possible to acquire such players only after you get various information and tips from concerned locals.
It is certain that very young players from Africa still require training in many regards. As you all know life in Africa is completely different from life in Japan.
In a way, their life is special. When African players come to advanced countries such as Japan away from their home countries, it is necessary for them to accustom themselves to the lifestyle of advanced countries. It requires a lot of work in order to transfer such players. Nonetheless, this type of work brings me such pleasure. This is because I can engage myself in the life and education of young players.
Depending on the player, such a big successful career will be waiting for them. Being able to assist them from the beginning of their career also brings me great pleasure. The person who invited me to Urawa Reds told me clearly at the beginning that the club wants to develop young players. He said to me directly that the club wants to change their way and proactively involve its self in the development of players. For this reason, I decided that I would come to this club.
Now we have a different president. However, Mr. Hashimoto, our new president also told me that we should continue to move on the new path we started to take.

(Are there many chances for trainees to participate in the team training in the future?)
There are chances that young players from countries such as Argentine and Brasil come to the club. It is certainly possible for them to participate in our training. I cannot promise who is coming when. But, it is possible for young players from other countries to join our training. One thing you should not forget is that I worked for Freiburg for 16 years and I trained many young players while I was there. Agents said that I can work well with young players. They also said that young players can develop their potentials in a relatively short period of time and they develop themselves very quickly despite the fact they are from overseas. This has been proven many times. For this reason, I have had many offers to look after young players and asked to be entrusted with such young players’ first two years in Europe.
As this was the case, we may have young players participating in our training not from one particular country but from several different countries so that I can look after their training. Having said all this, what is most important to me is, of course, Urawa Reds players. I would like to work well with them. I am not proactively seeking young players from around the world. However, please look at the situation of our team.
We hardly have players from the age of 22 to 27 years old. We have many players who are around 28 to 33 years old. There is a gap in the age bracket between 22 and 27 years old. Then we have many players who are between 18 to 22 years old. Virtually no players between 22 to 27 years old means that the club did not get many young players or did not nurture young players so that they can be leading players.
As we have a gap in the age bracket between 22 to 27 years old, I would like to nurture young players in consideration with the future of the club.
Getting back to the previous question, I do not think many young players will be coming to the club. According to the rule in Japan, we can have only three foreign players (A player) and we can have only one additional player under the Asian category (AFC player). As for the U-20 player category which includes foreign players, we can only have up to two players. For this reason, it is not possible for many players to come to be trained here. The situation in Japan is completely different from that of other countries.
In the case of the British team, Arsenal led by Arsène Wenger, the team often has no players from the UK playing in official matches. Those matches are often played by 11 foreign players. In his case, he brings about ten U-18 players from Africa every year. If two of them become successful players, then his story becomes a big success.As for Arsenal, the team acquired various players over the past few years. They discovered Adebayor. The player alone brings the team a big benefit. This is because he plays really good football, which made his market value very high. When a team can get a player like him, the player brings so much profit to the team. This is fantastic. However, we should not forget the fact that he was discovered among the many players the team acquired. In this country, this type of thing such as bringing 10 foreign players from other countries cannot be done. So, please do not worry. We will play good football with Japanese players. Looking at the rule in this country, we have three different categories namely Foreign player, Asian player as well as Development categories. However, in our case, if we acquire the player we have at the moment, this will limit the number of players we can have in the Foreign player category. We will be able to have three more players at most but not any more than that.
In regards to the Asian player category, we often get Korean players. Since I am working in the current situation in Japan and I believe that Japanese players should be playing as main players, it is not my intention to make a big comment about the current situation. However, I also think that Japan should open up its window a little bit more to foreign players. International exchange will stimulate many things. I think it is possible to bring the Japanese football level higher by having such stimulation. Japanese players can develop their skills further through the stimulation they get from various foreign players from different countries. There are many things that players can learn from each other. Considering the improvement of players’ skills in the long run, it is very important to activate international exchanges.

(Is the player participating in the team training this time different from the player who visited the club house before?)
He is different from the one we had before. Now that I can tell you the truth, I say that the player we had previously was a professional player. When he was young he played in different major clubs and earned lots of money. He was not that famous internationally. Nonetheless, he was such a talented player. He even played against the Japanese U-20 players before. We contemplated on whether we would be able to get him or not. However, it did not work out to be the best for us. When working in Japan, there are several conditions that are different from what I am accustomed to. Thinking about this and the current situation makes me think that it is actually not so easy to acquire foreign players in Japan.

(What is the trainee’s strength?)
That is something I will discover from now (lol). As a general rule, players who are born in Western Africa and become professional football player in their countries have definitely better instantaneous forces than European and Japanese players. This is something they have innately. This is one of the characteristics that players from Western Africa have. I think this will be one of his strengths.

(What are your criteria when selecting young players?)
One important thing is that players can understand what is going on in the field and act accordingly based on their right judgment without us giving any instructions. It is important for them to be able to grasp the situation they are in every time without being given any instructions. It is also vital for them to have a good sense for making the right decision.
In football, we cannot teach everything to our player. As for players, it is impossible for them to learn everything that happens while playing football. Of course, some things can be learnt. However, the rest of it will depend on the players’ talent.
It is our job to discover players who have such talent. Our job is to help such players to develop their talent by stimulating them once we discover them.
It is impossible for us to teach them everything in football. It is also not possible for players to learn every thing. No matter how talented a player may be, if he does not make any efforts and lacks in discipline, he will not be a successful player. However, even when a player makes every effort he can and has excellent discipline, if he does not have any talent, he cannot be a successful player either. This is the harsh reality of football. Football players are something that cannot be produced in a factory.