Nadeshiko Japan finishes tournament in 3rd place after losing to England 0-3 at 2019 SheBelieves Cup (2/27-3/5 ＠USA)
06 March 2019
On Tuesday 5 March, the Nadeshiko Japan (Japan Women’s National Team) played their final match of the 2019 SheBelieves Cup against the England Women's National Team. With both teams entering the final match with the same record of a win and a draw, and with the two sides scheduled to square off at the group stage of the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup France, it became a pivotal match in many aspects.
Following their match against the Brazil Women's National Team, Coach TAKAKURA Asako started MINAMI Moeka and OGA Risako at the centre half position, while MATSUBARA Arisa and SUGITA Hina were positioned in the defensive midfield role after starting in the match against the USA Women's National Team.
In efforts to take the initiative of the match Japan created an opportunity in the fourth minute, when Minami delivered the ball to SAKAGUCHI Moeno to penetrate the right flank. Five minutes later, HASEGAWA Yui intercepted the ball before sending a through ball to ENDO Jun to threaten the opposing goal. However, it was England who scored the opening goal, as Lucy STANFORTH captured the net from distance in the 12th minute, giving her side the 1-0 lead.
After conceding the opener, the Japanese players were seen huddling up to communicate with each other led by SAMESHIMA Aya. The players reminded each other not to press too deep and to stay persistent at critical moments, but soon conceded the second goal to England in the 23rd minute when Karen CARNEY converted a cross with a header. Japan applied more pressure from the front line to rally back, but conversely gave up another goal to England in the 30th minute, when Beth Mead penetrated the box before firing a shot into the Japanese goal.
Coach Takakura utilised four of her substitutes at the start of the second half, as MIURA Narumi, YOKOYAMA Kumi, MOMIKI Yuka, and KOBAYASHI Rikako were introduced to the match. This change to their line-up has given them new momentum in their attacks as Japan created more opportunities in the second half. After Kobayashi took the first shot of the half, SHIMIZU Risa followed with a cross delivered into the box. With the Japanese side picking up their pace in offence, Sameshima made an overlapping run in the 53rd minute before striking a shot that nearly captured the target.
Despite creating numbers of opportunities, Japan struggled to break through the English defence line who sat comfortably with their three-goal lead. In the closing minutes of the match, Sugita and Kobayashi both threatened the English goal, but came short from finding the back of the net. Japan fired a total of 16 shots, but failed to convert any of them, as England won the match with a final score of 3-0.
As a result, England took the tournament title with a record of two wins and a draw, while the USA, who defeated Brazil 1-0 in their final match, finished as the runners-up. Japan followed in third place with Brazil at fourth.
Nadeshiko Japan will now travel to Europe in April where they will play international friendly matches against the France Women's National Team and the Germany Women's National Team to prepare ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 in June.
Coach and Players' Comments
TAKAKURA Asako, Coach of Nadeshiko Japan (Japan Women’s National Team)
For the starting eleven, I knew they needed the time to recover and I was watching how they react to the whole situation. The players faced a tough stretch, but we didn’t want to just back down, so I sent out the substitutes with the intention to rally back, but that one goal was so far away from us today. England completely took the upper hand today, and it’s such a disappointing result. I feel like we still have long ways to go as a team. From here on, I will be asked to make very difficult decisions to select the appropriate players who are capable of playing at the world level. In our next tour to Europe, we will be facing Germany and France who are both capable of winning the World Cup, so we will utilise the opportunity to solidify the team’s core and the missing pieces.
DF #3 SAMESHIMA Aya (INAC Kobe Leonessa)
During the first half, we struggled to correspond with each other in defence and conceded the opener too easily. Although there were scenes where we made bad decisions, we could have made the adjustments by communicating more with each other. Although our opponents may have dropped back in defence after taking the three-goal lead, we still managed to show better distance between each other in the second half. We must fully embrace this result and make our steps towards the World Cup. With the team bringing in many new players, we are playing with a great amount of uncertainty, but we have very limited time until the World Cup, so we will continue to strive to bring out the best of us on the pitch.
DF #22 SHIMIZU Risa (Nippon TV Beleza)
In the first half, we were overwhelmed by our opponents’ intensity and conceded the goal too easily. All three goals we gave up were from similar situations, so that was very regretful. They were certainly attacks we had to stop. We managed to take control of the match in the second half by applying more pressure from the frontline, so that’s a positive aspect we can take back. Throughout this tournament, we weren’t able to take the initiative and our ball possessions were probably below our opponents. However, I was still able to take on the opposing midfielders one-on-one, so that’s something I am proud of.
MF #14 HASEGAWA Yui (Nippon TV Beleza)
Our opponents weren’t applying too much pressure, so I was able to receive the ball in open spaces, but I wasn’t able to get myself involved in the final third, so I must do a better job to become more critical at the attacking end. In the second half, we managed to force well-timed turnovers which allowed us to create effective attacks and build a good rhythm, but still failed to score a goal. Compared to the past tournaments, it was great to see us win against Brazil in this tournament, but overall, we still have many aspects to improve on.
|2019 SheBelieves Cup|
|Wed. 27 February||2-2||1st Match vs USA Women's National Team
(Talen Energy Stadium)
|Thu. 28 February||AM||Training|
|Fri. 1 March||PM||Official Training|
|Sat. 2 March||3-1||2nd Match vs Brazil Women's National Team
|Mon. 4 March||PM||Official Training|
|Tue. 5 March||0-3||3rd Match vs England Women's National Team
(Raymond James Stadium)
*The schedule is subject to change due to the team condition, the weather, etc.
2019 SheBelieves Cup
Tournament Dates: Wed. 27 February – Tue. 5 March 2019
All 3 matches involving Japan will be broadcasted live on BS Fuji
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