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Final round of the 23rd All Japan Futsal Championship kicked-off

10 March 2018

Final round of the 23rd All Japan Futsal Championship kicked-off

The final round of the 23rd All Japan Futsal Championship started on Friday 9 March at Komazawa Olympic Park General Sports Gymnasium. Six teams qualifying through the first round were joined by the 2017/2018 F League Champions Nagoya Oceans along with the runner-up Pescadola Machida. Total of eight teams will compete to be crowned as National Champions. The opening day featured four quarterfinals, all fighting for a spot in the semi-finals scheduled the next day, Saturday 10 March.

In the first match, Bardral Urayasu (F League/ 7th place) faced Fugador Sumida Buffaloes (Kanto 3/ Tokyo), who has been the talk of the tournament. The Buffaloes has beaten Vasagey Oita (F League/ 12th place) and Agleymina Hamamatsu (F League/ 8th place) in the first round but faced a tough match in the quarterfinal. Urayasu scored the first goal in the eighth minute when KATO Ryuma made a cut into the centre from the right side before finding the net with his shot. Two minutes later, ONO Daisuke showed off his brilliant skills to make it 2-0. The F League side displayed fluent attacks throughout the match, adding on to their tally, winning with a final score of 9-1. Urayasu struggled in the first round as they gave up the opening goal in each of their three matches, but here they’ve showcased a dominating performance in which all nine goals came from nine different players.

The second match featured a rematch from the 2017/2018 F League quarterfinals, as Fugador Sumida (F League/ 5th place) squared off with Shonan Bellmare (F League/ 3rd place). Shonan came off to a lucky start when UEMATSU Kouto blocked the opponent’s clearance. The deflection found its way into the goal giving Shonan an early lead just two minutes into the match. With luck and momentum on their side, Shonan would go on to score three more goals by the 22nd minute mark, leading the match 4-1. However, Sumida rallied back after getting a goal back in the 25th minute from an own-goal, Bola scored two goals in the very last minute of regulation time, sending the match into extra-time. Following the F League Play-offs, Shonan once again came out victorious after KOKADO Yuta scored the winning goal in the second half of extra-time, securing a spot into the semi-finals.

The third quarterfinal match featured Shriker Osaka (F League/ 4th place) and Pescadola Machida (F League/ 2nd place). Eight minutes into the match, Machida’s YOKOE Reo converted a deflection off of a shot taken by TAKITA Manabu to give their side an early lead. Osaka responded with KATO Minami’s goal, and the two teams entered half-time with a goal apiece. In the second half, Machida regained their lead after KANAYAMA Yuki scored following a set-play. However, in the 28th minute, Machida’s Daniel SAKAI was ejected after receiving his second yellow card of the match. Osaka took advantage of this situation to equalise the match with a goal from Crepaldi Vinicius. Machida will then go on to give away a spot-kick from the second penalty mark after their sixth team foul, but their goalkeeper Pires Higor made a brilliant save to keep the score leveled. In the closing minutes, Machida made a move to win the match, when MUROTA Yuki dribbled up the court before taking a shot, but his attempt was blocked, initiating a counter attack for the Osaka side. With six seconds remaining on the clock, Arthur scored the go-ahead goal off of this counter attack to give the defending champions a 3-2 win.

The fourth and final match of the day saw Fuchu Athletic F.C. (F League/ 6th place) facing Nagoya Oceans (F League/ 1st place). The match would go into the second half scoreless, but the match took a quick turn of an event when Nagoya scored the opener with an own goal in the 22nd minute. Fuchu then came back with KAMIFUKUMOTO Shunya’s equaliser in the 25th minute. Five minutes later, Nagoya retook the lead with ANDO Ryohei’s volley, but Fuchu came right back in the 34th minute with WATANABE Tomoaki’s goal following a counter attack. However, Nagoya once again took the lead with Rafa’s goal, soon after the match was tied. In efforts to level the match, Fuchu came out playing the power-play, but conversely gave up a goal to Nagoya’s YAGI Kiyoto. With the final score of 4-2, Nagoya advanced to their first semi-final in two years.

The semi-finals will be held on Saturday 10 March, to determine which teams will face each other in the final. Both cards feature exciting match-ups, as Urayasu and Osaka will face off in the first match, while Shonan and Nagoya will battle it out in the second match.

Coaches' and Players' Comments

HATAKEYAMA Yuki (Fugador Sumida Buffaloes)
In the first round MIKASA Takafumi was our starter but due to his accumulative yellow cards, I was named as the starter. I prepared myself thoroughly over the week, but the performance shown by the F League team was overwhelming. They perfected their set plays and didn’t give us any break. If we let any of their players unmarked, they took advantage of it. I am glad we made it this far, but it would have been better if we won three more matches, so it is disappointing.

OKUMURA Keito, Coach (Shonan Bellmare)
This season our head-to-head result with Sumida has been one win, one tie, and two loses, including the play-off match. However, we felt like we had an edge in terms of team potential, so we were pretty confident going into the match. The last goals we conceded were clearly my fault. Even though he was tired, I shouldn’t have taken KITAI Genki out of the game. We lost two goals after the substitution and were forced to play an extra 10 minutes, so I feel bad for my players. We made the game tough on ourselves by not converting the chances when we had them.

Arthur (Shriker Osaka)
We prepared well for this match, and I think everyone did what they were supposed to. We made it to the semi-finals, so we would like to keep it going. Even though we gave up the lead twice, we managed to control the game, so we were able to keep our cool. We possessed the ball well, and created many chances, but their goalkeeper Higor was making great saves. When I scored the final goal, I had to really make sure where he was going. In the 2016/2017 play-offs, he stayed in front of the goal, so I struck the ball hard, but this time he came out, so I chose to loop the ball over his head. I am glad I got to score that goal.

ANDO Ryohei (Nagoya Oceans)
It was very disappointing that we finished the season without any titles last season, and the bitterness is something I cannot get over with. This year we have a chance of winning the triple crown, and knowing we are the only team that can challenge the feat, we really want to make it happen. For every team, this is going to be the last opportunity to play with the current squad. So, in that sense, all teams have an extra motivation to play well as a team. I hope people can come watch the great action and feel the unity these teams will showcase.

Final Round 10 March (Sat.) Semi-Final Fixtures

Venue: Komazawa Olympic Park General Sports Ground Gymnasium/Tokyo
Access (Japanese website)

10 March (Sat.) 12:00 Bardral Urayasu
(F League/ 7th place)
vs Shriker Osaka
(F League/ 4th place)
15:00 Shonan Bellmare
(F League/ 3rd place)
vs Nagoya Oceans
(F League/ 1st place)

Information on TV and Internet broadcasts (Japanese website)

The 23rd All Japan Futsal Championship

Final Round
Tournament Period: 9 March 2018 (Fri.) - 11 March 2018 (Sun.)
Venue: Komazawa Olympic Park General Sports Ground Gymnasium/Tokyo

For tournament information
Final round ticket information (Japanese website)

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