【Match Report】Nadeshiko Japan defeat Canada to finish SheBelieves Cup in second place
23 February 2023
On Wednesday 22 February, the Nadeshiko Japan (Japan Women's National Team) defeated Canada Women’s National Team 3-0 in their third match of the SheBelieves Cup.
Following their 0-1 loss to the USA on Sunday 19, head coach IKEDA Futoshi made five changes to their line-up, as SEIKE Kiko made her first start in the competition. HAYASHI Honoka and NAGANO Fuka were named as the two defensive midfielders, while MIYAZAWA Hinata and HASEGAWA Yui were placed beneath KOBAYASHI Rikako to orchestrate the offence.
Facing the gold medallists of the Tokyo Olympics, Japan scored the opening goal in the 26th minute, when Kobayashi delivered a pass into the space to allow Seike to enter the box and slot the ball into the Canadian goal. With their defence showing great organisation to hold off the opposing attacks, Japan doubled the lead in the 41st minute when Hasegawa converted the penalty kick earned by ENDO Jun.
Japan made three changes at halftime, brining in SHIMIZU Risa, FUJINO Aoba, and IWABUCHI Mana to start the second half. In the 58th minute, Miyazawa broke through the right side, dribbled past the goalkeeper, and struck a shot towards the near post, but her attempt was blocked by an opposing defender. In the 72nd minute, Fujino carried the ball down the right side and fired a shot, but her effort went wide of the goal. Following a Canadian set-piece, Shimizu sent a pass from the right flank to the centre, allowing Miyazawa to deliver the final pass to Endo, who broke into the box before sending the ball into the back of the net. In the 89th minute, 19 year-old defender ISHIKAWA Rion was introduced to make her Nadeshiko Japan debut, as Japan managed to keep a clean sheet against Canada, who are ranked sixth in the FIFA rankings, to conclude the USA tour with a 3-0 victory.
As a result, Japan finished the SheBelieves Cup in second place with a record of one win and two losses. The team will resume their activities with a tour to Europe in April ahead of the FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™ in July.
Coach and Players' Comments
IKEDA Futoshi, Head Coach of Nadeshiko Japan (Japan Women's National Team)
I'm thrilled that the team fought tenaciously and prevailed, scoring goals while keeping a clean sheet. The players showed great improvements over the course of the competition. We would like to make this as a starting point and continue our preparations for the FIFA Women's World Cup™. Since we hadn't scored any goals leading to this game, we were a bit out of sync in our attacks in the first half, but I think the players understood what the team was trying to accomplish. One of the issues we had in the first and second games was that we weren’t able to capitalise on our opportunities, but we fought tenaciously and showed aggressiveness, especially against the USA, and I think that gave us confidence. Today the players fought with determination and concentration to earn this victory.
DF #4 KUMAGAI Saki (FC Bayern Munich/Germany)
We really needed a win, so it was great that we were able to prevail. I believe we were successful in quickly identifying the point of attack, attacking it, and scoring the opening goal at the right time. There were times during the match when both our opponents and we were playing slowly, and I believe we unnecessarily slowed down to match the pace of our opponents. I believe we need to pick up the pace in those circumstances, which is something we need to address ahead of our next match. I believe we have been able to address each of our issues one at a time since last October and November. We still need to learn how to fight according to the time of the match, which is something we need to develop while studying our opponents’ play style and characteristics.
DF #22 SEIKE Kiko (Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Urawa Reds Ladies)
When I scored the goal, I saw an opening when (KOBAYASHI) Rikako and (HASEGAWA) Yui switched positions, and a great ball was delivered to me as I committed myself to make a run into the box. The right-wing is a crucial position in the 3-4-3 formation, and it requires a lot of stamina. I think my strong point is in my ability to score goals, and even though the opportunities are limited, I really wanted to make a case for myself to be selected into the squad for the FIFA Women's World Cup™. Even though I have been working on the position since our last tour to Spain, I was worried at first because this was my first time playing the position in an international match, but I was able to communicate with (MIYAKE) Shiori-san and Yui to make it work.
MF #13 ENDO Jun (Angel City FC/USA)
I have gained a lot of confidence from playing in the States since last season. The players from the USA and Canada are much bigger than us, but I have been playing against players of that size for a while now, so I am accustomed to it. Canada were not too keen on applying pressure on us and we knew that they would be drawn to us from our analysis. I am glad that we were able to score goals as a team, and as an individual, I am happy that I was able to showcase my usual play to contribute to the team’s goals. However, I was worn down towards the end, so that is something I need to improve on.
2023 SheBelieves Cup
Tournament Dates: Thu. 16 - Wed. 22 February 2023
Venue: Exploria Stadium, GEODIS Park, Toyota Stadium (USA)
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