I had the very good fortune to speak to FC Gifu captain, and genuinely nice person, Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi after the game today.
- Me: Another good result, and a clean sheet. The relationship between a goalkeeper and his central defenders is very important. How are you getting along with (Kosuke) Kitani & (Masanori) Abe?
- YK: It is important, yes. Kitani & Abe are different types of defenders. Abe is very aggressive and likes to tackle. Kitani is experienced and so he can use his positioning a bit more. I’m always talking to them, especially Abe. The communication between us has to be good.
- Me: Gifu played with a very attacking style. It must put more pressure on the defence.
- YK: Yes, especially when Alex (Santos) and Arata (Sugiyama) go forward. There is always the danger that you get caught on the counter-attack. Masashi Miyazawa is important here, as he uses his experience to cover players that have gone forward. Full back cover is also very important too. But my job is to organize the players in front of me. I tell them to cover left, cover right, be careful behind etc.
- Me: Masanori Abe was excellent today. He looks like quite the player.
- YK: Yes, he was excellent today. He is a very quiet person, very humble. But he listens to everyone that gives him advice. He will continue to get better. The thing I like about him is that he aggressive and very strong. He enjoys tackling, but he is quick too and so can cover well. I thought that when Yuki Fukaya got injured, it would harm our team, but Abe has come in and been great.
- Me: There are a lot of “veteran players” in the squad: yourself, Kitani, Miyazawa, Namba etc. But there are also lots of younger players: Mizuno, Abe, Kiyomoto, Tanaka. Is there a kind of teacher-student relationship in the squad?
- YK: Haha! The young players listen to the advice we give them, but they want to be better than us! There is great competition in the squad which helps makes players better. We have competition for all places in the team and it creates a good atmosphere because everyone is trying their hardest.