South Korea cruised to a comfortable 9-0 win over Kuwait in their first game. Kudos to them for getting off to a great start under the pressure of the clichéd yet inescapable saying that “the first game is always the most important”.
We then headed to the Xiaoshan Sports Center Stadium to watch Japan take on Qatar. It was Japan’s first game of the tournament.
As I took a taxi, I could see the stadium through the front window. The stadium was bathed in blue lights that could be seen from a distance. The sun was setting and the rain was falling lightly, making the stadium seem even brighter.
After going through the usual bag check and pat-down, I headed to the press room to get some water, where I saw Japanese reporters eagerly anticipating Japan’s first match. Thinking about the Korean result, I said to myself, “I felt the same way,” and moved to the press box.
As I sat down and looked around, I saw a Japanese journalist checking the results of yesterday’s game. The Japanese reporters asked for an interview with me, including my thoughts on the tournament, and I readily accepted.
This man, who had the aura of a soccer expert and worked as a freelance journalist, was named Akiko Kawabate.
Given my lack of information about Japan, I first asked Kawabate about the characteristics of this team.
“This Asian Games team was selected in preparation for the Paris Olympics in 2024. It’s not a full roster. It’s more of a test to see if they can make it to the 2024 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-23 Asian Cup next year.”
Among the players to watch in the tournament are Kane Sato, 22, who wears the number 13, and Jun Nishikawa, 10.
“Kane, who plays for Werder Bremen, plays a very aggressive game. He can play on both the left and right flanks, and sometimes he plays up front, and he has the ability to break through.”
“Nishikawa is currently playing for Sagan Dos. He is a very technical player and has a very good left foot. His passing and kicking are both good and he makes clever moves.”
Both players started against Qatar and lived up to Kawabate’s description, with Nishikawa standing out in particular, assisting Japan’s second goal with a precise left-footed cross.
My questions were over, and now it was Kawabate’s turn. As we stumbled through our limited English, Kawabate felt frustrated with his own questions and turned on the translator.
He wrote it down. “I watched Korea in the previous two Asian Games. Is there a lot of pressure on the ‘military’ this time around?
After a moment’s thought, I replied, “Yes. The military issue is very important to South Korea. Moreover, this time, there is even more attention because Lee Kang-in, who plays for Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), is also competing. “Before the tournament, I was criticized for not playing well. I’m glad we won the first match.”카지노
It seems that Japan has now clearly understood that ‘Korea’s Asian Games=Army’.
After hearing the reporter’s answer, Kawabate nodded and had one last word.
“When I saw Korea’s roster, I was surprised to see so many good players, and Lee Kang-in! I hope Japan wins, but I honestly think it’s difficult.”
It’s Korean culture to reciprocate compliments.
“But Japan is always a tough opponent for Korea. Even if we meet this time, it will be difficult. Let’s wish each other luck.”