Sunday , May 26 2024

Japan must ‘deal with anything’ at Asian Cup: Moriyasu

Japan will need to be able to “deal with anything” at next month’s Asian Cup if they are to win a record fifth title, coach Hajime Moriyasu said Thursday.

Japan are one of the favorites for the tournament in Qatar, which kicks off on Jan. 12, after winning their last eight games including away victories over Germany and Turkey.

Moriyasu named a 23-man squad for a warm-up friendly against Thailand in Tokyo on New Year’s Day, featuring 15 overseas-based players but missing Premier League stars such as Liverpool’s Wataru Endo and Brighton’s Kaoru Mitoma.

The coach is expected to have everyone available when he names his Asian Cup squad in early January and he wants his players to be ready for any challenge.

“We want to be perfect from the first game but have to be prepared to grow with each match, and also to be able to deal with injuries and other things,” he said.

“Of course physical and tactical preparation is important but we want to make sure before the tournament starts that we have the mentality to play tough and deal with anything that is thrown at us.”

Moriyasu did not call up any players based in Britain, Italy or Spain for the Thailand game but he did name players from French, German, Belgian and Dutch clubs.

Monaco playmaker Takumi Minamino, Borussia Monchengladbach defender Kou Itakura and Feyenoord striker Ayase Ueda were all included.

Sint-Truidense attacker Ryotaro Ito and FC Tokyo goalkeeper Taishi Brandon Nozawa were called up for the first time.

Moriyasu said he was looking for “a good start to the year” against Thailand.

“This is a precious chance to build towards the Asian Cup and the World Cup qualifiers beyond that,” he said.

Japan have been drawn with Indonesia, Iraq and Vietnam at the Asian Cup.

They lost 3-1 to Qatar in the final of the 2019 tournament.

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