Taichiro Koga celebrates his 30th birthday with a victory
Fukuoka, Japan, October 4, 2019 – High-flying Yuji Nishida was the likely protagonist in Japan’s straight-set win over Tunisia in the 2019 FIVB Volleyball World Cup, but the unsung hero was their libero Taichiro Koga, who celebrated his 30th birthday running their defence and helping his team to a winning comeback after losing to Poland on the previous day.
Taichiro Koga and his teammates celebrate their 3-0 win over Tunisia
“It’s a special day for me because everybody prepared for today and let me play in this match,” Koga said. “I really appreciate the support of the coaching staff and my teammates in helping me stand out on the court today.”
Koga played the entire match against Tunisia, which Japan won 3-0 (25-23, 25-21, 25-11), demonstrating that he deserved the gift of victory on his birthday. He admitted that there were a few jitters, but delivered well.
“There was a little bit more pressure than in a normal situation but I got over it eventually,” he said.
“For me, I don’t care so much about how I play - I am more focused on how we play together as a team and how we finish the game. Today we all had smiles on our faces when we were on the court. We won 3-0 and that was the best thing to finish this kind of game.”
Tatsuya Fukuzawa, one of the team's veteran players, spoke with Koga before the match.
“This was an important match because we lost the other day,” Fukuzawa said. “We had to make adjustments. So I talked to Koga before the match and told him that we had to win the match.
“He’s such a good player and he brings a lot of energy on the court and to the team. He does everything for the team, so tonight we played a good game.”
Taichiro Koga and his daughter being interviewed by Fuji TV
Koga’s wife and daughter were present at the match and the Japanese libero was delighted to share that winning moment with them.
“Actually my daughter and I have the same birthday. Today is a special day for my family.”
Apart from performing well in the tournament, he has one wish…
“I wish that everybody will stay healthy and the most important thing for me is to stay in good shape.”
Japan take on USA and Argentina in their next two matches in Fukuoka on Saturday and Sunday before all teams move to Hiroshima for the second half of the competition.Youtube