Bangkok: Japan ace Kazuya Shimizu believes his side still have room for improvement ahead of Saturday’s decisive clash with Vietnam - a game the East Asians must win if they are to progress to the AFC U-20 Futsal Championship quarter-finals.
Successive draws against Tajikistan and Indonesia have left Japan occupying third spot in Group B, two points behind the Vietnamese in second and knowing that anything less than a win against their ASEAN opponents would signal an early exit from the Asian Football Confederation’s latest competition.
“To be honest, I am not satisfied. We still have so much to improve,” said Shimizu, who has scored five times in Japan’s three games.
“Especially in the game against Tajikistan where we could have won but their power play paid off, I feel very much responsible for that result.
“I believe we are, however, a good and strong team, so we will try to put in more effort for the game against Vietnam.
The tournament is Shimizu’s first for his country, and despite the pressure that always comes with playing competitively at international level, the 20-year-old is determined to get as much out of it as he can, both for his own personal growth and for the Japanese fans who are cheering their team on.
“My job in the team is to score goals, so I’ll greedily take all the chances I can and that is what I love about futsal,” declared the livewire marksman who began playing futsal professionally in the F.League - Japan’s top futsal league - at the age of 17.
“Football is just as attractive, but the smaller pitch and the pressure to make decisions in a blink of an eye is what drives me.
“Of course we will try our best to win the championship, but participating in this first-ever AFC U-20 Futsal Championship benefits all the teams involved, but we have to keep changing and improving to keep up with the other teams.
“And to all the supporters who came to cheer us on in the stadium, your presence gives us courage. And to the supporters back home, please believe in us to give you good news soon.”