[JNT Position Depth Analysis] Goalkeepers

Currently, there are 3 goalkeepers on the shortlist for the Japanese National Team (JNT), and here is my opinion on how the position depth chart should look like:

  1. Shusaku Nishikawanishikawa_shusakuStrengths: Reflexes, passing, shot stopping, distribution
    Weaknesses: Gets caught out of position
    Q: What does he bring to the team?
    A: Possession and distribution from the back. It is common knowledge that Manager Halilhodžić likes to have his goalkeeper to be comfortable with the ball at his feet, and this is a major reason why Nishikawa is in the squad.
  2. Masaaki Higashiguchihigashiguchi_masaakiStrengths: Handling, reflexes, shot stopping, one-on-ones
    Weaknesses: Injuries
    Q: What does he bring to the team?
    A: Stability in the goal. In my opinion, Higashiguchi is on level playing ground with Nishikawa to win the starting position for the JNT.
  3. Eiji Kawashimakawashima_eijiStrengths: Command of penalty area, shot stopping, mental toughness
    Weaknesses: Moving his feet to get into position
    Q: What does he bring to the team?
    A: He brings his experience and mental toughness. That’s all, because he has been warming the bench at FC Metz. The same will be true with the JNT. He won’t be seeing any game time, but he is a good role model for other goalkeepers.

In my opinion, Higashiguchi is the best goalkeeper overall if you look at the following goalkeeper aspects: handling, reflexes, shot stopping, one-on-ones. These are all things that I would look for in a GK. The things which Japanese goalkeepers lack is commanding the penalty area; however, this is something Kawashima has because of his outspoken disposition. On the other hand, if you look at former JNT GK Seigo Narazaki, he was not a commanding presence in the penalty area, but he started all of Japan’s matches at the 2002 World Cup.

For the upcoming match against Iraq, expect to see Manager Halilhodžić go to Nishikawa for the start in goal.

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