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

Comment from Team Manager Volker Finke on the day before the Yamazaki Nabisco Cup/A Fourth Sec. against Albirex Niigata
I do not think this week has been a good week for me as a team manager of the team. Not only those players who have been injured such as Ponte, Umesaki and Tatsuya but also many players who joined the national team were away. Three players went to the national team’s U-20 training camp and one player joined the U-18 training camp. Unfortunately, Haraguchi who participated in the U-18 game returned to the team with an injury. He is now suffering from inner obturator muscle strain. As this is the case, he cannot play in the next match. This difficult situation may change in a few weeks time or depending on our situation in a few month times. Nonetheless, as we are under such a situation at the moment, we do not have many options available for ourselves.
As you all saw, we had game style training today. In this training, two coaches and two goal keepers had to participate in the game as field players. Otherwise, we could not have the 11 on 10 match. What is really unfortunate for us is that according to a Japanese rule, Coach Tanko cannot register himself as a player (lol). If he could make a come back as a field player, we could have one more player option. I did not say this to make some funny comment here. Considering his quality as a player, I think he is very much capable of playing in the J. League.
Even though we are under such a challenging situation, I would like to tell our supporters that we will try to do our best so that we can have as good results as we can. I am sure our young players will prepare themselves for the next match with extremely high motivation. I also believe that experienced players such as Nobuhisa Yamada and Keisuke Tsuboi will do their best to have better results. Even if our members are not the best members, I would like to promise with my players that we will play with our fighting spirit and stamina as well as a strong will to win.

(Nobuhisa Yamada was playing at a center back position during training today.)
Since we are going through such a difficult situation at the moment, we have limited possibilities. For this reason, I must think of the way to utilize our players in different ways as they are used to. It was an attempt that I introduced Yamada in that position today. After all, it was not a bad position for him. Nonetheless, I am not sure if I will use him in the same position for our official matches yet.

(What was the reason for placing Nobuhisa Yamada in the center back position?)
Yesterday, I closed my eyes for five minutes and thought of many different players. I went through in my mind how many players I am left with who are experienced and possess the necessary perspective and instantaneous force to be a center back player. In the end, I though it would be best to go with Nobuhisa Yamada. He plays strong headers and has a good sense for utilizing the space required for a 4 back center back player.
If Satoshi Horinouchi did not receive the second yellow card (in the Yamazaki Nabisco Cup) and did not get suspended, it would have been possible for us to have him in the match tomorrow. Even though he is still going through his rehabilitation process, we could have urged his early recovery so that he could play in the match. However, as he is now suspended, there is no need for him to quickly go through his rehabilitation program. For this reason, I will make him prepare for the match that will be held on Tuesday next week.

(Considering the number of players who will stay at the bench, all sixteen players who participated in today’s program will come to the match tomorrow. Did you expect this would be the case?)
I do not think Hirakawa will play in the match tomorrow. His condition is not fully ready yet and he cannot move well instantaneously. As his fitness level is still at around 80 percent, he will not come to the match tomorrow. Under the current situation, Hirakawa cannot play one on one for 100 percent and his instantaneous movement is not perfect either. I communicated with our medical team and Hirakawa still requires some more training. If everything goes well, I think he will be able to accompany the team in two weeks from now.
Even though, I was aware of the possibilities of our situation getting more difficult, some of the things I face I am experiencing for the first time since I came to Japan. For example, official matches like the Nabisco Cup are held when some players are away for the national team. I do not mean to make any criticisms here. It is just that I am experiencing something like this for the first time since coming to Japan.
We have tried hard to nurture our young players well during this season. As a result, many players participated in U-18 or U-20 training camps. At the same time, we had to send four of our players to the national A team. Eight players are away for national team activities. As such, our situation is tough not entirely due to players’ injuries. For this reason, it is necessary for us to communicate with the Japan Football Association. We must establish a relationship where we can communicate with each other straight away if something happens.

(Why did Tatsuya not join training on the ground?)
As I have already said repeatedly, what is important for him is to recover fully by taking a step by step process. If he comes back to the team too early, it may lead to another injury. It is important to put burden on his body gradually to make his body get accustomed to the idea so that he can go through training to build enough physical strength to play in official matches.
What is interesting to me is that once he returns to team training, I am asked “when he will join the team” and when he is not having training, I will be asked “how he is”.
It is important for him to recover gradually by going through a daily training program he is given. Even though he finished all the training program tasks yesterday, as he had a rebound reaction, he decided to have a little rest today.

(Akahoshi had running training under a separate training program. Will he be playing in the tomorrow’s match?)
Akahoshi will definitely join the team. However, as he was suffering from a viral cold, he had a separate training program so that he would not pass his cold onto the other players.
But, it was not anything serious. It was just a common cold. Just to be on the safe side, I had him have completely separate program from the rest of the team members today as well. Since he is almost recovered from his cold, he will be coming to the match tomorrow. I do not think his cold will be passed onto the other players any longer.

(What did you think of the performance of Yuki Abe and Naoki Yamada during the match the Japanese National Team played against Chile on 27 May?)
Usually, I do not make any comments specifically on individual players. However, as I think those two played really well, I would like to make a brief comment about them this time.
I thought Abe played well in the center back position. Since Chilean players were making attacks with very quick switching moves, Japanese players were lagging behind at times when switching from offensive to defense. But, Abe defended the team well in his center back position. Abe also made a goal with a header shot. I think this has proven his ability once again as a good aerial player as you know.
As for Naoki Yamada, I thought he had a smooth start playing in the game. He was able to show his usual good performance just like when he plays in our club. I think he is a type of player who can always run around the pitch to play around the ball. I believe he too has proven his capability during the game they played against Chile.

(Team Manager Takeshi Okada said that the reason for selecting Naoki Yamada was based on the information he received that Naoki is not the type of a player who becomes too proud to be the member of the national team despite his age. What is your impression of Naoki’s mentality in this regard?)
I think it is interesting for the press to find out from what source Team Manager Okada got such information. Since he has never worked with Naoki, someone must have told him about Naoki. Certainly, I have maintained good communication with Okada.
As I have said repeatedly, it is not good to feature him sensationally. I also told Haraguchi the same thing as well. I gave a piece of advice to him. But, things were reported sensationally in a wrong way and I was not able to protect him.
I would like to continue to be very mindful about Naoki, but I think he has inner strength. I do not think it is good for him to be surrounded by the media just like it was the case the other day when he was trying to leave his accommodation by bike. However, it is not that I am worried about everything about him.
Naoki is a completely different type of player compared to Haraguchi. It is necessary to consider his characteristics as well. Players like him can perform well because of their diligent manner and abundant stamina. He is diligent and I think he is a player who has a strong mentality so that he does not lose himself easily. He is different from forward players who rely on their own senses. As this is the case, I believe he will be able to show his advantage such as his wide perspectives and abundant stamina on the pitch, which is built upon his characteristics. For this reason, Naoki will remain to be Naoki regardless of where he plays. As such, I am not too worried about him.
Certainly, there is no doubt that he will face a very difficult situation. Suddenly he was appointed to join the national A team and he became famous at the young age of eighteen. His life has certainly changed. As he has inner strength, I do not think he will change. However, since he is still young, I think he needs support from many different directions.
Currently, this team has good coaches who can guide him with the necessary educational approaches. As such, it is necessary for him to take time to develop well in this club. There are also experienced players in this team. They are excellent players who are also capable of giving him the necessary educational advice. For this reason, it is important for him to nurture his potential under this environment.
As you are aware, when a player becomes successful, many people claim to be his mentor. For this reason, he has to be mindful of who are his true friends and whom he can trust. When a player is yet to be successful, he has no mentor and becomes isolated (lol). As such, it is necessary to see the situation surrounding players a little more objectively.

(We heard that the goal Abe scored in the match against Chile was made from a set play. How do you regard the importance of a set play?)
Over the past thirteen matches, we scored five or six goals with a set play. I think our team scores many goals with set plays in the J. League. There is no doubt that set plays are important for many teams around the world and they create many different scoring opportunities. Depending on the situation, some teams score about 40 to 45 percent of their goals by having set plays. The average figure is 30 percent. For this reason, every team has to try to score about 30 per cent of its total score from set plays. We would like to work on our set plays to be our weapon during our training in the future.