Maya Yoshida is gunning for men's football gold at the Tokyo Games, but the Japan captain is also helping the host nation develop an emerging generation of players during the Olympic tournament.

One of the three overage players in Hajime Moriyasu's squad, the 32-year-old center-back said he signed on for his second stint as Olympic captain, following the 2012 London Games, with both objectives in mind.

Maya Yoshida (5) of Japan celebrates after opening the scoring against Honduras during the first half of a warm-up match for the Tokyo Olympics on July 12, 2021, at Yodoko Sakura Stadium in Osaka. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

"The aim of the Olympic Games in football is a bit different from other sports. The younger generation can get international match experience. That's a very important thing," said Yoshida, who also captains the senior men's national team.

"The target of course is to get the title, the medals, but at the same time try to improve the football of the young generation."

Normally contested by under-23 teams with a limited number of overage players, the age ceiling for the current Olympic men's football tournament has been raised by a year in line with the postponement of the Tokyo Games due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The young Japanese have shown plenty of promise at their home Olympics, winning all three group-stage games against South Africa, Mexico and France.

They booked their quarterfinal berth as group winners by dismantling France 4-0 at International Stadium Yokohama on Wednesday, with 20-year-old Real Madrid attacker Takefusa Kubo continuing his streak of scoring in every game of the Olympics.

Japan's Takefusa Kubo (L) opens the scoring during the first half of a Tokyo Olympic men's football Group A match against France on July 28, 2021, at International Stadium Yokohama near the capital. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Japan also received strong contributions from players based in the domestic J-League, including Kashima Antlers forward Ayase Ueda, Kawasaki Frontale full-back Reo Hatate, and Yokohama F Marinos striker Daizen Maeda.

"I think this generation has good potential and a lot of talented players. But still they need to improve a lot, they need to understand where we are. And I'll try to help them," Yoshida said.

With Japan near the top of the Olympic medal table and performing strongly in a wide range events, Yoshida said he had been drawing motivation from other Japanese teams.

"I've been inspired by other (Yukiko) Ueno in the softball, and by the baseball team's play," he said.

The Sampdoria defender, who spent eight years with Southampton in the English Premier League, said he aims to remain Samurai Blue captain at least through the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and wants to help current Olympic squad members earn senior national team selection.

"I am a very realistic man. I understand my career will be not so long. So during that time, what I can do is try to help improve Japanese football," he said.

"That's the kind of job that I really like to have. And I am enjoying my time at this moment."

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