The day before the Yamazaki Nabisco Cup/A 1st Sec.-Team Manager Finke  

Comment from Team Manager Volker Finke on the day before the Yamazaki Nabisco Cup/A 1st Sec. against Sanfrecce Hiroshima
I assume you are aware of the real situation with the team. Four players who are playing for the national team cannot go to Hiroshima. Hosogai will also stay here to look after his physical condition. In looking after his physical condition, he started to feel that something is not quite right with his back since the last match. For this reason, we will have five positional changes in the next match.

(It seems as though Alex is going to join the team.)
He has been away from the team for a long time. As such, it is not likely to be the case that he will play in the match as a starting line-up member. But, he has been working so hard to recover from his injury for such a long time. Considering how the current situation of the team is, it is a good thing for him to join the team. As such, I have decided that he would join us to go to Hiroshima.
It will depend on the situation and the score of the match, but I may ask him to play on the pitch for a few minutes if necessary. I would like him to be on the pitch for many reasons including mental ones. However, as he has not played in official matches for a long time, I do not plan to have him on the pitch for so long in order to minimize any risks so that he does not have to retire from playing in official matches again.
It does not necessary apply to all the players but knowing Alex’s character and the contributions he made to the team outside of playing soccer, I believe that he will have a good impact on young players. He also has great experiences. I think having such a player as part of the team will help young players a lot.

(What do you think of the fact that four players who are members of the national team cannot play this time?)
I did not mean to comment on this originally, but about seventy percent of the preparation training as well as training matches we have had was without the national team players. I do not think it is necessary for me to comment further on this. Those players who are with the national team at the moment have not been able to join the team for over three weeks in total during the preparation period anyway. In this regard, I do not think there will be any issues.

(What about Alex’s position?)
I cannot make a detailed comment about Alex at this moment. This is because he still has not fully recovered. I was able to ascertain his data on his instantaneous force when we had the sprint test the other day. When the timing is right, I would also like him to have a physical checkup within the next two weeks. By collecting various data like this, I can find out about his physical condition. In this way, I can get numerical data of how far off he is from his best physical condition. When his physical condition improves to a certain level, I will start to think about strategic aspects as well. Certainly, I think he is vital on the left side in general. But, I think he is excellent playing in the front line as well as the back line. In our team, it is natural for players to be able to play in several positions. Alex can play in several positions. I believe having him on the left side will be valuable for the team.

(Is there anything different in preparation for playing in the Cup?)
I will prepare for any official matches with enthusiasms regardless of the match. An official match is an official match whether it is a J. League match or a Nabisco Cup match. But, one thing I can say is that as we do not have those players who are with the national team as well as those who are injured, we must have major changes in terms of main players who play in the match. In this sense, I am a little bit disappointed about the match schedule this time.
That being said, it will be an important official match. I think that the Nabisco Cup will also be a very interesting match. For this reason, I would like to have a good result for this match. As I mentioned earlier, since those players who have not played in official matches so often will be playing in the match this time due to lack of main players for the reason of joining the national team as well as injuries, some may think I think lightly of the Nabisco Cup. I am concerned that people may get the wrong idea.
However, I do not think lightly of the Nabisco Cup whatsoever. I regard the Cup as very important. I really hope that the team will have a good result in the match.
What I found unfortunate was that we have to play three away matches in a row. On top of that, one of the away matches this time will be held in Hiroshima, which requires us to stay two nights in Hiroshima. As this is already a fixed schedule, we cannot change it. When we have many official matches to play, people often get the wrong idea that we think lightly of certain official matches and not wanting to have major players play in those matches. Looking at the situation superficially, our team is not a good team theoretically as we do not have those players who are with the national team as well as those who are injured. For this reason, some may get the idea that the squad is not a main squad. However, I truly think that the Nabisco Cup is an important match and it is an official match. For this reason, I will prepare ourselves as we always do so that we can have a good result.

(Is there any difference in preparing for matches held in a row?)
This week is completely different from our usual weeks. Our schedule is different and training is different. But, we should not forget about our third match. We have to play in the match on Sunday. This match is also an important match. Looking at our week this week, the only time our players can have a rest and recover from fatigue is Saturday. In order to prepare ourselves to be in the best condition, I decided to have this Saturday completely off.
I would like you to understand that many things that are regarded normal are not necessary normal in Europe. One of the examples is to stay overnight the night before a match. Looking at the world trend, it is not common at all for soccer teams to stay overnight the night before a match. It is especially the case with high level prestigious leagues such as the Premier League in UK. In the case of the Bundesliga in Germany, only about half of the teams have the practice of staying overnight the day before a match. For this reason, I think it is not necessarily vital for players to be confined in a hotel the night before a match.

(Today is your 61st birthday.)
Players were talking about today being my birthday. They were saying that I turned an age that is a lot younger than my actual age. That was the best present I got (lol).