【Match Report】U-20 Japan National Team concede a pair of late goals in loss to Israel - FIFA U-20 World Cup Argentina 2023™
28 May 2023
On Saturday 27 May, the U-20 Japan National Team faced the U-20 Israel National Team in their third group stage match of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Argentina 2023™.
With the team in a position to clinch the knockout stage with a draw or better after winning and losing one match each, Japan made three changes to their starting line-up, giving MATSUMURA Kosuke (Hosei University), ABE Taisei (V-Varen Nagasaki), and SAKAMOTO Isa (Fagiano Okayama) their first starts of the tournament.
Deploying their familiar 4-2-3-1 formation, KIMURA Ryoya (Nihon University) started in goal with TAKAI Kota (Kawasaki Frontale), CHASE Anrie (VfB Stuttgart), TANAKA Hayato (Kashiwa Reysol), and TAKAHASHI Niko (FC Barcelona) forming the four-man defence line. SANO Kodai (Fagiano Okayama) and YAMANE Riku (Yokohama F. Marinos) anchored the midfield with Matsumura, MATSUKI Kuryu (FC Tokyo), Abe placed beneath the lone striker Sakamoto.
The match started with Japan taking the initiative through the offensive involvement of Matsumura, Abe, and Matsuki. Matsumura fired a powerful shot in the sixth minute, before creating a couple of close opportunities in the eighth and tenth minutes.
With momentum on their side, Japan took the lead during additional time of the first half, when Matsuki responded to a set-piece delivered by Takahashi by flicking the ball into the mix to setup the goal of Sakamoto.
After taking a 1-0 lead, Japan shifted their system to a five-back formation in an attempt to secure the points they needed to advance through. In the 68th minute, Israel’s Ran BINYAMIN was shown his second yellow card of the match, giving Japan a numerical advantage for the remainder of the match, but it was Israel who gained momentum in the closing stages of the match.
In the 76th minute, Japan conceded the equaliser from a free kick they gave up just outside the penalty area, and during additional time of the second half, Omer SENIOR scored the decisive goal that put Israel in the lead.
Despite their final efforts to equalise, Japan lost the match 1-2 and finished the group stage in third place. The team will now wait for the other matches to complete to see if they can advance to the knockout stage, as the top four teams out of the third-place finishers will be granted a spot into the round of 16.
Coach and Players' Comments
TOGASHI Koichi, Head Coach of U-20 Japan National Team
We played well to finish the first half with a 1-0 lead. We knew we would be under a lot of pressure in the second half, so we made the change to occupy the spaces in the flanks. The players played very patiently until the point we gained a numerical advantage. However, we conceded a free kick from our own mistake after the opponents were a down a man. We were once again reminded that a seemingly insignificant decision may have a significant impact on the outcome of the match, since we could have just passed the ball upfront, instead of backwards in that given situation. We will stay focused and prepared to play as long as we have a chance of advancing through.
MF #7 MATSUKI Kuryu (FC Tokyo)
We must accept this result and the reality that we still have long ways to go to compete at the world level. However, we are not completely out yet, so we are still hoping to advance through. Even though our opponents were playing a man down, they played with great intensity that made us rush our plays. Simply put, we were overwhelmed by our opponents at the end.
MF #8 SANO Kodai (Fagiano Okayama)
After gaining an early lead, we definitely wanted to add a second goal. In the second half, we might have played a little too passively, which gave our opponents more opportunities to possess the ball. I regret that we lost a goal because of a careless mistake I made. We still have a chance to advance, so we want to be as ready as we can be in case we move on to the knockout round.
FW #11 SAKAMOTO Isa (Fagiano Okayama)
Although we were able to take the initiative and keep the ball moving, I feel like we have let our guards down once our opponents lost a player. (Reflecting on the first goal) Once Kuryu won the ball, the opposing defender was also reaching for the ball, but I didn’t think twice about sticking my head into the mix. I am glad I was able to score that goal, but it is very disappointing to lose against 10-men.
FIFA U-20 World Cup Argentina 2023™
Tournament dates: Sat. 20 May - Sun. 11 June 2023
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