In the first half, we put out quite a defensive side as Kobe dominated possession in an organized way. However, fortunately, we went into half-time with a 0-0 draw, thanks to my players’ good defense with minor defensive frailties. After intercepting a ball, we pressed ahead but were not patient. In this sense, the second half, our play was better, especially, our attack was good which helped to create a chance. After scoring a goal, we were the defensive side for a long time. Meanwhile, Kobe showed a good performance. For this game, I predicted that the team who scores first can be the winner. Fortunately, we scored an opening goal and ended without any dramatic change.
■ Hiroshi Kiyotake
Q: I think that your team was organized even though it was the first game. What do you make of it?
"We were patient for most of the time, but I think that this is the manger’s defensive style. I wish we could have been more organized to make the most of the chances. At some points, they exploited our errors. I was thinking of many ways during the build-up play with Maruhashi and Kimoto on the left flank."
Q: With the new system, you have got a positive result. It must be a great harvest for you.
"It was good that we could play as a unit in both attack and defense. Nobody played selfishly, which is a good sign for the new team. Every player was responsible for his own position, and fought hard until the end. What we need to work on is attack. I would like to master Lotina’s positional play."
Q: In the first half, five players were positioned as a defender. Was it measured or did you play it by ear?
"I thought that we were defending too high up. However, it was a right choice for us, including Yoichiro, to drop back into defense. Without watching the video, I cannot say, but it might have been too high up but it might have been spot on. "
Q: You did not give any chance to Kobe’s attackers who were highly expected to perform. Your defense was almost perfect, wasn’t it?
"We practised the defensive style to close down the opponents immediately. We were able to cover each other while attacking, being always conscious of this. After an interception, we have got a problem."
Q: Even with the problem, is winning at the opening game something for you?
"Absolutely. It was great to share my joy with the Cerezo supporters, rather than a defeat or a draw. It was also good as a team. I am hoping get some momentum. As a leader, I would like to take Cerezo to a good position. "
Q: How was your impression after the game you played against Hotaru Yamaguchi?
"Surely, he is a really good player. He fits Kobe’s style. It was not so comfortable to play against him. Hotaru will boost Kobe a lot. "