Last week, in the midst of their streak of five consecutive matches, Verdy suffered a 0-1 loss at home against Ehime FC. The defeat came after they had successfully pinned the opposition back for long periods and created a number of chances. On this day, they traveled to Okayama with only a day’s rest and two days of match preparation as they looked to make up for the victory they previously let slip away.
The changes in the squad were made at midfield. Rihito Yamamoto was given the start at the libero position, along with Yuhei Sato and Haruya Ide at front central midfield, while Ryoya Yamashita also made his first start in several matches at right wide striker and Yoshito Okubo started for the fourth straight game.
Your thoughts on the match?
We suffered a tough loss against Ehime last week and we had to reflect on that as a squad while making improvements in preparation for today’s match. In the first half, we did a good job of observing our opponents and I think we accomplished 70% of what set out to do. As far as the second half is concerned, when we think about our ideals for the full 90 minutes, we didn’t have control of the ball for long enough. I think the fact that we couldn’t dominate the match is something we have to reflect on and we must make improvements before next time. To do that, we will make adjustments throughout the squad. However, when thinking about things in terms of the season as a whole, matches aren’t always going to go as planned. The sort of game we saw in the second half is especially like to occur from now on. Of course, it can’t be something that we take as a given, but if things do unfold like that, we still have to demand ways that we can win and I think that during the second half, the way the squad pulled together to help the defensive line and every player performed without error was excellent. Overall, I don’t think we can be satisfied with the way we played, but I think the fact that we won the full three points is a sign of how much hard work we’ve put in and that’s something to be proud of. Our objective remains to play good football and to win by playing good football. We want to do both, so in preparation for the next match, we will demand greater quality and better play as we look to win. With all that said, the players really did work hard and I think they performed very well.
In the second half, you had the lead and must have wanted to press your advantage, so what do you think was the reason that the team gradually lost their attacking edge? Do you think you were into much of a hurry to get the ball forward or is it that your contra (counter-attacking) play was ineffective after drawing the opposition forward? Please tell us your outlook.
We always seek to dominate the ball and dominate the space. Our objective is to achieve both, but as you say, if we’re looking to play the ball into the space behind the defense, we have to do a better job of observing where there defensive line is on the pitch. In addition, we have to observe the way their shape shifts from side to side and how far forward they’re coming to press us. I think we may have needed to do a bit more in terms of moving the ball from one side of the pitch to the other, so that we could recycle possession and reclaim control. I think the fact that we didn’t do that is what caused us to struggle. Of course, there were also individual mistakes and poor decisions that everyone must do their best to address. I will work on making adjustments both individually and as a team. I’m always grateful when there are things to work on and improve in a match that we still won. We will do our best to review our play today.
You’ve stated before that your objective is to always aim to build on your lead, but was that on your mind at the end of the match today, too?
It’s a very difficult judgment call, but today we made more mistakes and had less time on the ball than we anticipated. There didn’t seem to be any signs of improvement as the match went on and while we naturally still sought to get another goal, it’s true that we did change to a plan with more emphasis on defending at the back.
What do you think about the fact that you weren’t able to finish when you did have chances on the counter in the second half?
While we’re always going to have opportunities to try and get goals with counter or contra attacking, I regret that we haven’t had time to do a full training menu devoted entirely to that sort of play. However, I think the players understand what they have to do and it’s a matter of deciding what areas of the they’re going to break down and how to apply the finish. When we’re contra attacking and have a 3 v 2 or 4 v 3 advantage, we have to decide who will make the run and who should try and get free at the end. The players understand that in their heads, but I want them to execute that in concrete ways on the pitch. I know they’re capable of it and I will work with them so they accomplish it next time.