The day before the J. League Eighteenth Sec.-Team Manager Finke  

Comment from Team Manager Volker Finke on the day before the 2009 season J. League Eighteenth Sec. against Oita Trinita
This week we were not able to have many training sessions. This was because we had to play in an official match few days ago. Luckily no one got injured. Since this week had been such a short week, it was important for our players to recover well from the previous match they played in. As for Keita Suzuki who was injured slightly in the previous match, as he has recovered very quickly, he can come with the team for the next match we will play against Oita. Unfortunately, the conditions of Keisuke Tsuboi and Naoki Yamada are not so good yet. For this reason, they will not accompany the team to go to Oita. As I can predict your next question with high probability, I would like to say the following now.
The situation of Oita Trinita will pose a very difficult challenge for us. This is because they have a new team manager. As you know, Oita did extremely well last year and achieved a great result. It is true that they have kept on loosing matches during this season. However, their performances were not that bad. In many cases, they were not able to play as well as their opponents and as a result they could not win the matches. As this had been the case, they hardly lost the matches by a big margin but rather by one point. Now that they have a new team manger, this may stimulate the team in a new way. For this reason, it will be very hard for us to play against Oita around this time. We also have to think about the physical conditions of our players. Considering the recent climate, it will be hard for players to play three matches in one week if they have to play high-impact football. For this reason, I want my players to recover well. To be honest with you, I think Oita is in a better position for this match as they did not have to play in a match a few days ago.

(Do you know Oita’s new team manger, Mr. Ranko Popović?)
I don’t know him at all. He has never worked in Germany. I know of him and know that he used to work in Austria. However, I don’t know any more than that.

(Do you think the condition of the lawn in the stadium will be difficult for the team to play?)
First of all, I do not think the condition will be bad to the point where we cannot play football. I am interested to find out about the condition of the pitch in the stadium. If the condition is really bad and we cannot play grounder passes, chances are we may have less numbers of long passes. I have been asked similar kinds of questions in Europe over the last twenty years. When my team played away matches in Germany with bad lawn conditions, I was asked if it would be better for players to kick a long ball to the front line at an early stage rather than passing around the usual short passes. The answer I gave at that time was to look at the performances of the players who were brought up in Africa or Brazil. They play excellent football with the finest short passes in the world.
However, conditions of pitches in Africa and Brazil are terribly bad compared to those of Japan. They play football in an environment in which usual Japanese people would think impossible to play football. On top of that, those players have the finest skills. This is the reality of football. For this reason, there is no way that we stop kicking short passes due to the bad condition of the pitch. It is often the players who practiced on terribly bad pitches who play better football than those who practiced on only nicely maintained lawn since they were young.

(What do you think of the hot weather in the stadium?)
As I always say, our opponents also play in the same environment. It is the case with not only the temperature but also the pitch that is not nicely maintained. For this reason, there is nothing that we do especially for such an environment. I will tell my players that our opponent is also in the same situation. I will tell them clearly that our opponent will be playing under exactly the same condition.

(What is your view on the trainee from Ghana?)
I can not give any detailed comment about him. To tell the truth, since it has only been a few days that I saw him play, I cannot give you any new information. Here, I would like to think about why we should look after young African players. Players from Africa, especially from Western Africa have a type of potential which we Europeans or Japanese do not usually have. This is not something players can pick up through training. They have innate instantaneous force. African people have excellent instantaneous force.
Of course, you can not play football just by having good instantaneous force. As you know, in order to become a successful player, it is necessary for the player to be able to play good football in addition to having good speed. As players from western Africa have such good potential, we would like to continue to look after them in the future as well.
Looking at the J. League regulations, there is one category for training. It does not cost us much if we get players in this category. As we will be able to have at least one player in the category, we would like to make the most of this. If we get well-established players from overseas with lots of money, people expect the player to perform really well in no time. I think it is a good idea to train a foreign player who has good talent and potential by utilizing the training category just like training our club’s 18 year old players.
For example, African players have been brought to France and trained like this since about a decade ago. There is a national training center in France and players from 16 to 18 years old are brought to the center to be trained. For this reason, the French national team also has done well for a long time. It does not cost much money as those players come to France under the training category. As you know, the amount of money they can earn is also not much. They won’t be work-ready players straight away. But, they are brought to the country and trained under the training category so that they will be leading players in one or two years.
Having said that, some 18 year old players can contribute to the team straight away as being a leading player. Genki Haraguchi and Naoki Yamada are good examples. Shunki Takahashi who is now 19 year old is another good example.