Thu, 28 Oct, 2021
Tokyo: Japan’s 2004 AFC Asian Cup-winning captain Tsuneyasu Miyamoto is backing Javier Aguirre’s side to reach the final of the 2015 event in Australia in January as the Samurai Blue chase a record-breaking fifth title.
Aguirre, appointed in the summer following the FIFA World Cup, spent the initial phase of his tenure assessing a large number of new players, but the results were disappointing, culminating in a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Brazil in Singapore in October.
Since then, the Mexican coach returned to the core of the team that predecessor Alberto Zaccheroni took to Brazil for the World Cup in the summer, with the move paying dividends.
Japan notched up a handsome 6-0 win over fellow World Cup qualifiers Honduras before a 2-1 victory over the Socceroos in Osaka last week, and Miyamoto believes the more experienced heads will lead the way in Australia early next year.
“We have good players I think,” says Miyamoto, who was at the heart of the Japanese defence when they defeated hosts China in the AFC Asian Cup final in Beijing 10 years ago. “But, for example in the game against Brazil, it was terrible. The coach sent the young players into the game and we knew what would happen before the game.
“But when I saw the game against Honduras and Australia, I found good qualities from the experienced players. They brought some good quality. Definitely, I believe they will play in Australia and they will bring us a good result.
“So, hopefully, we’re going to play in the FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia, but at the same time we need to consider a four-year span and the players have to grow up and show their motivation and qualities.”
Former Gamba Osaka, Red Bull Salzburg and Vissel Kobe defender Miyamoto, who was one of the AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 Trophy Tour ambassadors in Tokyo this weekend, is backing Japan to reach the final on January 31 despite the rebuilding job being undertaken following a disappointing showing at the FIFA World Cup.
“It is difficult for everybody and every coach after the World Cup, because somehow they have to change the team,” he says. “But he will play with experienced players, and they will deliver a good performance.
“We’re going to be finalists. I’m confident, 100 percent, or 80 percent. I hope. Japan has to be champions in Asia.”