Arab News Japan
DUBAI: With one day to go until the Japan Gulf Cup, Saudi Arabia’s very own Samurai Al Riyadh football team is ready to place in top spots at the UAE tournament.
Speaking exclusively to Arab News Japan, Vice-Captain of Samurai Riyadh and Second Secretary at the Economic & Commercial Section of the Embassy of Japan in Saudi Arabia Hiroki Mori said the goal for the team is win a spot in the top four just like they did in the 2020 Japan Gulf Cup.
The team was founded in 2008 and is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. The team, according to Mori, trains every Friday morning in Riaydh and practices against other Saudi local team and teams from other embassies.
The Japan Gulf Cup, said Mori, is the “best hub for the Japanese to meet, because it’s not only the players but also their families and friends coming to relax and have fun in Dubai.”
“It’s my first time participating in this Gulf Cup, but my teammates and I are very excited. It feels like a sports day back in school,” he added. “I do definitely feel like this has brought me closer to the Japanese community in Saudi.”
After the Qatar World Cup 2022, Mori said Samurai Riyadh was so inspired, they were training in the Saudi international football team’s, the Green Falcons, uniform.
“Most of us were at the stadiums in Qatar during the World Cup. We learned from the games that certain teamwork and tactics could beat the right team like Germany and Spain,” Mori explained. “It really encouraged us to strengthen our teamwork in football.”
He also said Saudi Arabia’s win against Argentina inspired Japanese people. “Plus, after a few weeks, Cristian Ronaldo joined Al Nassr. As a Riyadh citizen, we are honored to have a world superstar in Riyadh city,” Mori said.
The Vice-Captain explained that Samurai Riyadh play against other embassies like the US, UK, Morocco, Spain and Eritrea.
“Until the Eritrean team beat us, we didn’t lose any game since three months,” he said.
The Japan Gulf Cup is taking place on Feb. 3 at Dubai’s Sevens Stadium with the event starting at 12 P.M.