At yesterday’s pre match press conference for Japan versus United Arab Emirates, Samurai Blue manager Javier Aguirre made it clear that his team will be wary of more than just shining light Omar Abdulrahman.
Aguirre’s tenure as manager for Japan has been largely successful, apart from a hammering from Brazil in October, while fielding an experimental squad.
But now Japan faces a stern test. They’ve had quite an easy group stage where it’s been possible for them to take their foot off the accelerator and ease back. That won’t be possible against the UAE who dominated the majority of their match with Iran.
Probed on who was the key player in the UAE, Aguirre paid respect to the whole team. “I would not be fair to them if I name some. They’re a competitive team,” the manager said.
Clearly Aguirre didn’t want to give airplay to his means of containing Omar Abdulrahman, though Japan would be naive though if they thought they could get through this match without a plan for the UAE’s key player.
Meanwhile, United Arab Emirates manager Mahdi Ali has hinted that his team will be doing their best to close down Keisuke Honda. Ali and his team have studied Japan closely and he noted, “They always play an open game and they like to play a possession game, and for us I think it is the same.”
With the game played in Sydney tonight, it’s expected that more than 20,000 will be in attendance. Last night Melbourne was able to draw 23,381 to the Korea Republic vs Uzbekistan quarter final. Though Sydney still has a semi final to host, plus the final, the ‘big city’ will quietly assert itself again tonight as the premier sporting city of Australia.
Samurai Blue will have the majority of the support given Australia’s fondness for all things Japanese. But if the Asian Cup champions advance to the semi final in Newcastle, the fondness and friendly relations will be cast aside.