Debate: Topic and Outline
Today’s topic is the SAMURAI BLUE (Japan national football team) at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. I remember staying up very late to watch the football games and sleeping in next morning during its tournament. Since it’s been two months, let’s look back on the World Cup and focus on the Japan national football team.
- Progress of tournament match at the World Cup
(1) Every country including Japan was divided into eight groups of four teams each. Japan Group H had three matches against Poland, Senegal, and Colombia in the group stage. Each team is scheduled for three matches against other teams in the same group and the top two teams advance to the final stage. Therefore, sixteen groups can reach the finals. As a result, Colombia and Japan advanced to the knockout round from Group H. However, there was a mixed reaction against Japan. Senegal had the same number of goals scored as Japan, however, Japan reached out the knockout round thanks to fewer yellow cards and other factors.
(2) In the knockout round, Japan had a first match against Belgium. Japan scored the first two points of the game, but Belgium came from the behind and Japan was beaten 3-2 by Belgium.
(3) World Cup Final (Fig.1)
France and Croatia played for all the glory at the final and France won the game. The news that President Macron from France and President Putin from Russia attended the closing ceremony became the topic of conversation at that time.
- The problems of Japan strategy at the World Cup
Let’s see the Japan strategy at the Japan-Poland match which led to mixed reaction in the world.
(1) Poland scored its goal in the second half of the match. Japan basically had to attack, however, Japan didn’t try to score and tried to run down the clock in the last 15 minutes. As a result, Japan lost to Poland 1-0.
(2) Because of this, the audience booed the Japan national team.
(3) The reason for this strategy (Team players followed instructions from the coach.)
On the same day at almost the same time, there was a Senegal-Colombia match. The Japanese team had been informed during the match that Senegal was losing to Colombia 1-0. If the Japan-Poland match had ended without any charge in this circumstance, Japan would reach out the knockout round because Japan had fewer yellow cards than Senegal. Therefore, Japan coudln’t have another cards during that match and the coach decided to focus on defending, which meat trying to run down the clock, not attacking. This strategy disappointed the audience and it wasn’t something that was praised.
From the above, let’s see the following discussion about Japan strategy between Akiko and Benjamin as always.
Akiko: Which team was playing against Japan at the last match in thegroup stage?
Benjamin: It was Poland. Poland experienced difficult games in the previous matches. If Poland had lost the game against Japan, it was said that they could have received a torrent abuse from their country. What was the result?
Akiko: Poland tried hard to take back their reputation and scored the first point of the game. Japan wanted to catch up with Poland in the second half of the match, however, Poland was standing firm on defending. In the last 15 minutes, the head coach Nishino had to make a difficult decision.
Benjamin: At that time, coach Nishino called captain Hasebe to give him an order.
Akiko: What was the order? After Hasebe came back to the match, Japan tried to run down the clock by passing and receiving the ball. Why did they do that?
Benjamin: I think Japan was getting information about Senegal-Colombia match at the bench side.
Akiko: What information?
Benjamin: Senegal was in the same situation as Japan and was losing to Colombia 1-0.
Akiko: Therefore, coach Nishino called Hasebe and instructed him to pass and receive the ball to gain some time and not to lose any more points. He thought Japan could survive this tournament because Japan had fewer yellow cards than Senegal. It was a risky gamble. If Senegal had made another score, Japan would have dropped out the group stage. That must
have been a horrible result.
Benjamin: All the matches are for players and audience. As you can imagine, Japan’s national team received loud boos from the spectators.
Akiko: Japanese audience must have been really disappointed, too. Japan national team was called “SAMURAL Japan”, however, they didn’t seem like SAMURAL in this match.
Benjamin: In the sports games, all players should try their best!! If players don’t, it will be called “a fixed game”, especially in Sumo wrestling matches.
Akiko: If they try their best and can’t win the game, that’s totally fine because that’s all they have. As indeed, Japan national team lost the first match in the knockout round. Just the same.
Benjamin: I think Japan national team should have tried their best even if they have lost the game. Otherwise, we can’t call the team “SAMURAI”
Akiko: True. If they continue using this strategy, they should change their name into “Nadeshiko Japan”.
Benjamin: I also think changing rules are needed to avoid these strategies in the games.
The above is translated by Ms. Kojima and prood reading by Mr. Sam