Japan vs Chile, Monday’s match for the 1st match day of the Copa América, Group C, at the Estádio Morumbi, in the Morumbi district, São Paulo, Brazil.
In their second participation in the Copa América – the first one was in 1999, the national team of Japan will not be represented by its main team. The Japanese Federation decided to use the tournament as the basis of preparation for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
Thus, coach Hajime Moiyasu based his call for competition in Brazilian soil with the sub23 team athletes. Of the 23 called, only six pass the age barrier allowed for Olympic participation. Even in this group, only three are called with some regularity for main national team.
The managers claim to have made that decision because of the difficulty they have with the clubs to release the athletes. Although the Copa América is an official competition and included in the FIFA calendar, which means that players must be assigned by teams, this is only true for South American teams.
As a guest, Japan could not demand the same treatment. Thus, to avoid conflicts, they decided to leave aside their most important athletes, who were left as the runners-up of the Asian Cup in January of this year.
The Chileans will play the tournament under heavy pressure. Despite having won the last two editions of the Copa América, they failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, which led to the change of command. The Colombian Reinaldo Rueda, who is in charge of the preparation for the Qatar World Cup, however, has been criticized in his selection process.
He was the target of protests from fans in announcing the reaction to Copa América 2019. The weather even made the local federation avoid the farewell friendly before embarking for Brazil in Santiago. They chose to face the fragile Haitian team in La Serena. The Chileans won 2-1, but they had to reverse the score. The situation would very likely generate intense protests in the capital, where the fans are considered more demanding.
From the end of its participation in the qualifiers for the Russian Cup, Rueda led the team in 13 friendlies. It won five (Sweden, Serbia, Mexico, Honduras and Haiti); drew four (Denmark, Poland, South Korea and the United States); and lost four (Romania, Peru, Costa Rica and Mexico).
The prediction in the victory of Japan is the most indicated guess in the confrontation that closes on Monday the first round of the classification phase of Copa América 2019.