Oliveira brings Midas touch to Urawa

Urawa Reds won the Emperor’s Cup this past weekend, and as well as booking their place in next year’s ACL the triumph also added another medal to the impressive collection of the man with the Midas touch, Oswaldo de Oliveira… (日本語版はこちら)

Football Channel, Wednesday 12th December, 2018

When it comes to winning titles in Japan there are few, if any, who have exhibited quite as ruthless a streak as Oswaldo de Oliveira.

The Brazilian ended all five of his years in Kashima with his hands on a trophy, claiming three J.Leagues (2007, 2008, 2009), two Emperor’s Cups (2007, 2010), and a J.League Cup (2011), and after just eight months in Saitama he has kept up his record of ending every season here with a piece of silverware by leading Urawa Reds to their first Emperor’s Cup since 2006.

Speaking with his latest medal hanging proudly around his neck in the Saitama Stadium press conference room after Urawa’s 1-0 win over Vegalta Sendai on Sunday Oliveira didn’t look anything approaching his 68 years, and the glint in his eye suggested his appetite for glory has been fuelled rather than satiated by this year’s triumph.

“This emotion is something I tasted before and now I’m renewing (that feeling),” he said with a satisfied grin. “This makes me very happy.”

He was also optimistic when asked if he felt lifting the Emperor’s Cup could energise Urawa in the same way the league and Emperor’s Cup double in his first season in Ibaraki set the wheels in motion for Kashima’s golden patch under his charge a decade ago.

“I hope so. That’s why I work very, very hard to try and repeat at least some of that. I breathe when I win. I work to win, this makes me more young!”

With Reds sitting ninth in J1 when he took over after nine games of this season the league title was always going to be a tall order in 2018, but Oliveira insisted that he had been driving home the importance of the Emperor’s Cup to his players since the start of the tournament.

“All the time since the first match in the Emperor’s Cup I showed them the way – “We have to win this competition, because this is the passport for the next season’s ACL”,” he explained of his approach.

“This is something I’m working for. I played (in the ACL) four times before and I never hit the final, and I will try my best next season, really.”

To achieve that aim the former Corinthians boss wants to add more depth to the squad, although he feels he has a strong core to work with and has been impressed with the effort of the players since his arrival.

Oliveira Urawa, 12th December 2018

“They are very disciplined, very obedient, they try to do their best. They come early for training, so they do everything I ask and that’s why we could win today.”

Yuki Abe was singled out for special praise, and after shining in the back three in the absence of the injured Mauricio the 37-year-old was full of admiration for his manager as well.

“He reinforced the fact that we have to do all the things required of us, that it is unacceptable not to do so,” Abe said of Oliveira’s arrival in Saitama.

“He picked up on all the things that weren’t working so well in the team, and is the kind of coach who makes sure that his ideas soak in for everyone. He came in during the season and I’m sure there were some difficult things, but it’s great that now we’ve ended the season in this way by winning.”

Despite his enviable record of collecting titles Oliveira was coy when asked if he possesses a particular ‘winner’s’ characteristic – merely chuckling and saying, “I do my best” – but he did stress that players need to have the right attitude if they want to join him in picking up trophies.

“Mentality is the base. Many times I worked with players with fantastic ability, technique, individuality, but if he is not strong in the mind, if he doesn’t have enough confidence, he is like zero. So it is something we have to work on with the players. If he is good he (gets) better, if he has confidence (then) what can he do.”

In order to help motivate the team and inspire that confidence the coach took the unusual step of inviting Urawa’s fans to attend training the day before the semi-final and final of the Emperor’s Cup, engendering a sense of togetherness between them and the players.

“Our supporters are fantastic, the number and the quality,” he explained of the idea. “We have to bring these people closer to us. Because surely if they act like they have done, if they are near the players the players will get this enthusiasm. That’s why I tried to bring them closer and closer to pass to the players this enthusiasm, this confidence – to show the players how they love the team.”

It certainly worked this time, and few would bet against the fans also developing plenty of affection for the man with the Midas touch in the coming years as well.


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