JAPAN – BELARUS 3:1 (2:0)
January 9th, 2016, St. Petersburg, Peterburgsky SCC, 300 spectators
Best players: Shunta Nakamura, Vitali Lisakovich
Post match comments
Atsushi Uchiyama, Head coach of team Japan:
– We managed to find a good balance between offensive and defensive play today. We converted good moments and had our best match on the tournament.
– Have you ceded the initiative in the beginning of the match purposefully or were you trying to understand the opponent's tactics?
– The opponent had good defense and we didn't have an opportunity to attack. Besides, we had some problems in the centerfield. But after one of the Belorussians got injured we managed to arrange two successful attacks which ended with goals. And then we were able to set good ball possession.
– What prevented your team from showing such a splendid football in previous games?
– It's only today that we were able to put our best eleven in the starting list. Some players had injures or were sick before. And since this was the fourth match, the players already got to know each other better and could show a good game, good mutual understanding and interaction.
– Could you compare the two Japanese teams: today's and the team which won Granatkin Memorial two years ago? Because today your team was much like that team.
– Our players this year didn't have an opportunity to prepare well for the tournament in Japan. Not all of them were in their best shape. But in today's match we put the best team on the pitch, and they could create more combinations and keep a good balance between attack and defense. Comparing this team to the team of two years ago, I could say I was able to take some strong points from that winning team of 2014 and to bring them into the current one.
Mikhail Markhel, Head coach of team Belarus:
– It was a good match today, we saw decent football. We had played just yesterday and it was difficult for us today. We knew Japan brought a strong team here. Playing against them is a great school. And we did well "on their background". So I thanked my players in the dressing room. Primarily for giving what they had on pitch and secondly for the second half. I think we outplayed the opponent.
– This second half was the best for your team on the tournament. What prevented you from playing in such a manner in the first?
– We were watching and analyzing previous games of Japan. And we told the folks our view about them. But talking is one thing and playing the way we planned is another. Our two defenders got lost a bit and we had problems in the center. That's why we had to make a quick substitution. We needed to strengthen this area. We began playing more confidently and the second half ended in a draw.
– What was the cause of the first substitution on the fourth minute?
– The player got an injury in the very beginning. He felt he could not play anymore and asked to be substituted.
– Sometimes you criticize your players for mistakes and sometimes you praise them. Do you have favorite players in the team or is it psychology when you need to be firm with ones and soft with others?
– The second is right, it's psychology. All the players are different. You need to praise some and yell at others. Everything depends on the character of the player and on the situation on pitch. You need to react differently in each case.
– Today it seemed that that your play depended upon the opponent. Were the Japanese outplaying your guys and did they "turn themselves on" because of that? You'd better play with such opponents more frequently, maybe...
– I'd be happy if we had such an opportunity. But normally we rarely have official games with big teams. As a coach I am always pleased to play with a high level team like Japan which is the best on this tournament in my opinion. And I am happy for my players because they managed to find energy to stand up against such a team.
#24 Japan – Belarus