Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu said having players with high individual quality has been key to his side’s brilliant run to the last-16 stage at the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar.
After beating Germany and Spain to top Group E, Japan now face Croatia on Monday to try to reach the quarterfinals of the World Cup for the first time.
Japan have always had team discipline, commented the coach, but he said the individual talent in the current side is making a difference, with 11 members of the squad now playing in top-flight European sides.
“Japan have always been a team that can play an organised game, but unless the individual players are strong, this is not really sufficient.”
“In the last four years, the individual players have become much more capable,” commented Moriyasu in his pre-game press conference on Sunday.
Meanwhile, defender Yuto Nagatomo highlighted the personality Japan showed to fight back after falling behind against both Germany and Spain, and hoped they can show that same spirit on Monday, reports Xinhua.
“This is a great opportunity for us to show the world how we can fight like Samurais,” commented the defender, who said that like the legendary warriors, the Japanese football team can have no doubts.
“Before they go into battle, they polish their weapons and try to improve their techniques, but if they are scared during battle, they would not be able to use those weapons and techniques fully.
“It’s exactly the same with football; of course the tactics and techniques are important, but no matter how much we have improved those, if we are scared when we are on the field, those things are useless. The first thing we need is courage,” insisted the Tokyo-based stopper.