I was lucky enough to chat with FC Gifu captain Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi after last night’s game and, of course, he was in a good mood.
Me: Yoshi, great result! How difficult was it to adjust to another defensive unit?
Yoshi: Yes, it was difficult. Today’s defenders (Abe, Tanaka, Henik) are very good pressing defenders and they play with lots of heart, but, because they are new to each other and the system, they sometimes don’t know when to cover. That is why in the first half there were some chances that came from long balls. It is my job to help organize them and make sure the communication is good between them.
Me: And a clean sheet!
Yoshi: (smiling) Yes! That was very important. We’ve been in pretty good form recently but we haven’t been able to keep a clean sheet for a while so I’ve been a bit unhappy. But today we managed to do it.
Me: Why could you keep a clean sheet today?
Yoshi: Hmmmm. Today we managed to keep the ball a lot better because we were calmer in possession.
Me: All the midfielders selected today were comfortable ball players.
Yoshi: Yes. When the midfield keeps the ball, it allows defenders & me time to organize and get in our positions. When we have the extra time, we can do a better job.
Me: From now, what is target for the rest of the season?
Yoshi: We just have to focus on every game. We have to believe we can get a play-off spot. It is so tight in the middle of the league that wins will make you move up the table quickly. We’ve been training really hard all through the summer – REALLY hard – but now that the weather is getting cooler we feel that our group of players are mostly in good condition and we can play well for the rest of the year. Belief. Belief is the key. We have to believe we can finish high in the league.