FIFA World Cup 2022: German coach Hansi Flick praises ‘Blue Samurai’ Japan ahead of first game
Ahead of their World Cup Group E match on Wednesday, Germany coach Hansi Flick acknowledged the potential of Japanese football but remains optimistic about his team’s preparations for the tournament. Germany crashed out of the 2018 World Cup in the first round after losing their first group match, the first in more than 80 years. It should be noted that the Japanese team includes eight players of German descent, seven of whom compete in the elite Bundesliga league.
“I have to put myself out there as a fan of Japanese football. They’re doing it really well,” Flick said at a news conference on Tuesday. “We see their quality in the Bundesliga, with Eintracht Frankfurt’s (Daiichi) Kamada having a great season or (Wataru) Ando, who is one of the best midfielders in the Bundesliga. “It’s a huge task, but we go into it. Are match ready and looking forward to it,” he said.
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The fact that Japan did not participate in the World Cup finals until 1998, but has subsequently qualified for all six editions and made it to the Round of 16 three times, highlights the Asian country’s growth in the global arena.
“In the last days, we had very good training sessions which set a good position for the first game,” said Flick.
“All great football nations aim to become world champions. That’s why you are here. When you have pressure, it is because you have earned it. We will reach our limits and we will definitely reach them.”
Germany, the four-time world champions, who also face Spain and Costa Rica in their group, will be desperate to put the 2018 defeat behind them. One player eager to do so is Joshua Kimmich, who was part of the 2018 squad.
The versatile midfielder said, “The motivation we have is huge. We know 2018 was nothing, and we had to wait four and a half years and tomorrow what will be important is starting with a good game.” “It’s extremely important. At Euro (in 2021), we lost the first match, at the 2018 World Cup, we lost the first match, so my focus is on tomorrow, and I’m sure we’ll win.”
With inputs from Reuters