am very proud of the sense of unity thanks to the players and support staff.”

Coach Go Oiwa returned to Japan on the 19th (Korean time) after completing two friendly matches with the Mexico-US U-22 team in the United States. Previously, Japan defeated Mexico 4-1 on the 15th, but lost 1-4 to the United States on the 18th.

Japan and the United States have their immediate goal of advancing to the finals of the 2024 Paris Olympics. With the Olympics in mind, which has an age limit of 23 and under, the two teams formed an U-22 squad and played an evaluation match.

There is an open possibility for the United States to participate in the Olympics for the first time in 16 years. It was a perfect opponent for Japan. On the other hand, Mexico, which defeated Japan and won the bronze medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, lost its eligibility to participate in the Paris Olympics early.
With the match against the United States, Coach Ko Oiwa ended his 46-day long journey with the U-22 team.

Previously, Coach Oiwa Ko played three consecutive Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-23 Asia Cup qualifier matches in Bahrain from September 6th to 12th. He immediately led the 6 games of the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games from September 20 to October 7, and after returning home, he went straight to the United States and played friendly matches with Mexico and the United States on October 15 and 18, respectively.

Coach Oiwa Ko took 23 players who did not play in the Hangzhou Asian Games on a trip to the United States. However, when Shota Fujio left due to injury ahead of the game, Kotaro Uchino, who had participated in the tournament, was selected as a replacement.

Coaches Oi and Ko, who have been competing for a month and a half, continue to be evaluated as exceeding expectations. Before losing 1-2 to Korea in the Hangzhou Asian Games final, Japan had not known a loss since September with 7 wins and 1 draw.

Despite missing the opportunity to rise to the top of Asia and losing to the United States, Coach Oiwa Ko returned home in a bright mood.

According to Japan’s ‘Nikkan Sports’ on the 19th, in an interview on his return home, Commander Go Oiwa said, “It was a very good two-game series away to the United States. It was beneficial to us in many ways.” The media further explained, “He returned with a satisfied expression.”

Coach Go Oiwa said, “Even though we lost to the United States, it was a game where we did what we wanted to do very well. There was a big score difference (1-4), and (the players) must have realized that they can’t win with good soccer alone. “It was a game that was truly beneficial to our team,” he said with satisfaction.

Now taking a break, Coach Oiwa Ko looks back and gives credit to the staff.

He said, “The support staff worked really hard for a month and a half. Thanks to you, we have become stronger once again. “The sense of unity as a team has increased,” he said, emphasizing the significant role played by not only the players but also the coaching staff and medical staff.

Japan, which has set its ultimate goal of winning at least a bronze medal at the Paris Olympics, is preparing incredibly meticulously.

Japan must place in the top three at the AFC U-23 Asian Cup to be held in Qatar next April to receive a direct ticket to the Olympics. It is the first gateway to Paris. The fourth-place team must win the intercontinental playoff against Guinea, ranked fourth in the African qualifiers, to advance to Paris.

The Japan Football Association also confirmed the schedule for another evaluation match for coach Go Oiwa. Japan will play a friendly match at home against Argentina in November. Nikkan Sports said, “The steps toward the Paris Olympics continue steadily.”

The goal of the Korean Olympic team led by coach Hwang Seon-hong is the same as that of Japan. However, there are differences every time in the preparation process.

Korea’s clear path toward the Paris Olympics The Korean Football Association’s timeline is not yet in place.

The atmosphere between Korea and Japan is also clearly different. Unlike Japan, where coaches are expressing their satisfaction with staff support through the media, coach Hwang Seon-hong is desperate for help.

After winning the gold medal at the Hangzhou Asian Games, coach Hwang Seon-hong said, “I don’t think this result would have been possible without the efforts of not only the players, but also the support staff and coaching staff,” and added, “Soccer is becoming more and more detailed. (More) support is needed.” “In this tournament, both the physical and analysis parts worked together. If these parts are not supported, future soccer will not be easy,” he said, emphasizing that support from professional personnel must continue.

He added, “If we do not work together, it will be difficult to develop Korean soccer. If this aspect (game support) is well prepared, I am confident about the Paris Olympics.”

In Japan, approval was given for the December convening training schedule following the Argentina evaluation match. Coach Hwang Seon-hong raised his voice, saying, “The Olympic team should be able to train for about 2 to 3 weeks during the (professional team’s) winter training period in January. That way, they can be competitive. If there is no such opportunity, it could become very difficult in the future.”


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