Sanfrecce Hiroshima manager Hajime Moriyasu has urged his team to forget last year’s historic J. League title triumph and start afresh in Saturday’s 2013 season curtain-raising Xerox Super Cup match against Kashiwa Reysol.
Sanfrecce upset the favorites to win their first-ever championship last season, clinching the silverware with a week to spare before going on to finish seven points clear of second-place Vegalta Sendai.
But Moriyasu has warned his players not to let success go to their heads as they prepare for the defense of their title, urging them to lay down a marker against Emperor’s Cup-winners Reysol at National Stadium ahead of next weekend’s season opener.
“Winning the J. League last year is something that we can be really proud of, and it will live long in our memories,” Moriyasu said on Friday. “But we have to put that in the past and start the new season as challengers.
“We have to be humble. We have to improve in both attack and defense. We can’t be satisfied because other teams will be looking to shoot us down. We have to raise our level as individuals and as a team.”
Kashiwa takes its place in Saturday’s game having beaten Gamba Osaka 1-0 to win the Emperor’s Cup final on New Year’s Day, giving the Chiba side a positive finish to the season after ending the defense of its 2011 J. League title in sixth place.
“We have reinforced by bringing in some new players with the aim of winning the title, and we have a lot of quality in our team,” said Reysol manager Nelsinho. “We are not in the best condition yet, but tomorrow is a good chance to get ready for the new season and win a title in the process.
“Sanfrecce are a very strong team, with a good blend of young players and experienced veterans. They play in a particular style, and are very difficult to play against. Considering that this is a matchup of two teams who won trophies last year, it should be a good game.”
Sanfrecce will look to Hisato Sato, reigning J. League player of the year and last season’s top scorer, to make the difference, and Kashiwa captain Hidekazu Otani is fully aware of the danger.
“Sato is an excellent finisher, and he is a player who lifts the crowd,” said Otani. “I hope he slacks off tomorrow and isn’t able to score any goals.”