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SAMURAI BLUE wins their final match of the year 4-0 against Kyrgyz Republic at KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2018

21 November 2018

SAMURAI BLUE wins their final match of the year 4-0 against Kyrgyz Republic at KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2018

On Tuesday 20 November, the SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) faced the Kyrgyz Republic National Team at the KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2018. With the help of national team debutant YAMANAKA Ryosuke’s (Yokohama F・Marinos) goal and HARAGUCHI Genki’s (Hannover 96) goal in the first half, the team capped off their final match of the year with a 4-0 victory.

For the two teams entering the AFC Asia Cup in January, the match served as an important test match to check out their current form. Coach MORIYASU Hajime, who mentioned that he wanted to add layers to the team, has rotated the entire line-up from the Venezuela match on Friday 16 November.

While Yamanaka made his national team debut, MORITA Hidemasa (Kawasaki Frontale) made his first start following his appearance as a substitute at the match against Costa Rica in September. The two forwards who has been utilised as a late substitute under Coach Moriyasu, KITAGAWA Koya (Shimizu S-Pulse) and SUGIMOTO Kenyu (Cerezo Osaka), also made their first start for the national team. MIURA Genta (Gamba Osaka) returned to the line-up after sitting out a match, whilst ITO Junya (Kashiwa Reysol), Haraguchi, MISAO Kento (Kashima Antlers), MAKINO Tomoaki (Urawa Red Diamonds), MUROYA Sei (F.C. Tokyo), and GONDA Shuichi (Sagan Tosu) made their first start in three matches.

With fresh legs featuring the line-up, Japan took the early lead in the match. In the second minute, Kitagawa posted up to dish the ball to Sugimoto, who delivered the ball to the overlapping Yamanaka at the left flank. Later reflecting the scene, “It was our first chance, so I didn’t hesitate to take a shot,” Yamanaka’s left-footed shot captured the net to give Japan the opening goal.

After taking the lead, Japan was seen collecting the ball to their midfielders Misao and Morita, while Ito and Haraguchi penetrated the sides.

In the 19th minute, Haraguchi earned a foul out side of the penalty area. Haraguchi took the free kick himself and drove a shot that bounced right in front of the opposing goalkeeper, which found the back of the net to give Japan a 2-0 lead. For Haraguchi, it was his first goal since July, when he scored against Belgium at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Japan continued to create opportunities, as Ito connected with a cross in the 25th and 29th minute, followed by shots taken by Sugimoto and Kitagawa in the 31st and 37th minute respectively.

Facing Japan who are ranked 50th in the FIFA rankings, the 90th ranked Kyrgyz Republic employed a 5-4-1 formation that emphasised heavily on their defence. In efforts to score back a goal, the Kyrgyz side shifted three forwards upfront but with Ito making insistent runs into the box, they were forced to substitute their left fullback in the 35th minute. Just before the end of the first half, Kyrgyz Republic finally broke through the right flank to take a shot, but the effort made by Kairat Zhyrgalbek UULU came short from capturing the target.

The second half continued to see Japan dominating the match. However, with the team struggling to score further goals, they brought in their substitutes to change the dynamics of the match. In the 59th minute, OSAKO Yuya (Werder Bremen), DOAN Ritsu (FC Groningen), and SHIBASAKI Gaku (Getafe C.F.) were brought into the match, followed by an injury substitution of Makino to YOSHIDA Maya (Southampton FC) in the 61st minute.

The substitutions revitalised the offence as the team’s third goal came in the 72nd minute, when Kitagawa dropped the ball delivered by Morita to allow Osako to capture the goal.

Midfielders NAKAJIMA Shoya (Portimonense S.C.) and MINAMINO Takumi (FC Red Bull Salzburg) were brought onto the pitch soon after the third goal, as they showed instant results. In the 73rd minute, the young trio, Minamino, Doan, and Nakajima connected quick passes between each other and finished off the play with Nakajima’s right-footed shot that shook the net. It was Nakajima’s first goal since the match against Mali in March. The trio who has strived under the helm of Coach Moriyasu, once again made their presence felt on the pitch.

Nakajima and Minamino continued to threaten the opposing goal, as Nakajima came close to assisting a goal in the 89th minute when he delivered a corner kick which was struck by Miura, but his attempt went off the goalpost. The match that saw both the veterans and the youngsters getting involved in the team’s goals came to an end with a final score of 4-0, giving Japan a victory in their final match ahead of the Asia Cup.

The Japan National Team will now aim to capture their fifth title at the AFC Asia Cup which will be held in UAE this January.

Coaches and Players' Comments

MORIYASU Hajime, Coach of SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team)
I will like to thank everyone for supporting us today here at the stadium and through the media. I told my players to strive for higher standards regardless of who we face and to fight hard until the very end. The players also told each other to make this match count and showcased great intensity throughout the match. We still need to improve on our timings of the vertical passes and show more combinations to create opportunities, rather than making individual efforts at the final third. However, the players have made the efforts to showcase what we have been working on in our training sessions, so I am proud of the performance shown today. The substitutions have really revitalised the game today, and that’s an aspect we wanted to improve following the match against Venezuela. We hope to see our substitutes creating similar results in our future matches. We have done everything in our power to strengthen our team and I am sure the players will now implement what they’ve experienced here to further develop their talents. The players have shown their willingness to strive for higher standards in this final match ahead of the Asia Cup, so I feel like we were able to put in a good preparation for the tournament. We hope to see more improvements during the Asia Cup while earn positive results.

DF #5 YAMANAKA Ryosuke (Yokohama F・Marinos)
I was able to enter the match without being too nervous. I am good at taking shots from those angles, so I stayed focused not to get under the ball too much. Other than, my body just reacted to take that shot. It’s a little too good to be true (to score in the debut match), but I made many mistakes during the match, so I will fix those aspects and keep working hard.

DF #22 YOSHIDA Maya (Southampton FC)
We cannot evaluate ourselves based on this one match, but we kept focusing on playing our game regardless of who we face and challenged ourselves to output a performance of high quality. In the Asia Cup, it is expected that our opponents will play very defensively against us. That is why a player that can break through those barriers with individual skills will be essential for the team. The defence line must stay focused not to concede from counter attacks for the entire 90 minutes. We now we will be facing a tough challenge with the hot weather and different climate.

MF #8 HARAGUCHI Genki (Hannover 96)
I kept in mind what we can do differently as a team to create opportunities. With Kyrgyz Republic playing defensively, it gave us the opportunity to rehearse the scenarios that may come up at the Asia Cup, but that is not the only situations that may occur at the tournament, so we must stay flexible to make the adjustments and give ourselves the best chance to perform our best football.

MF #10 NAKAJIMA Shoya (Portimonense S.C.)
I am glad I was able to score a goal today, especially because I missed on my opportunity in our previous match. I’d like to thank my teammates for that. Not just the players upfront, but we have many good players on this team. Every time I play, somebody gives me the opportunity to shine, so I hope to respond to their plays by scoring goals and make plays that contributes to the team’s win.

MF #17 MORITA Hidemasa (Kawasaki Frontale)
I managed to play in my own rhythm in the first half, but in the final 10 minutes of the match, I turned over the ball many times from my own mistakes, so that’s something I must improve on. I am glad that my pass initiated a goal for the team. I feel like I was able to display my character in this match.

FW #13 KITAGAWA Koya (Shimizu S-Pulse)
Although I managed to make effective plays facing forward, I still made many mistakes and I felt the need to shorten the gap between those players who entered the match late. In order to do so, I must work on my daily trainings with a higher intention.

Aleksandr KRESTININ, Coach (Kyrgyz Republic National Team)
It was an unfortunate result for us, but we hope to analyse the match in order to strengthen the team. Japan seemed to have played their game comfortably. We needed to disrupt them from doing so, but we couldn’t manage to execute our game plan.

Schedule

Mon. 12 November PM Training
Tue. 13 November PM Training
Wed. 14 November PM Training
Thu. 15 November PM Official Training
Fri. 16 November 1-1 KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2018
vs Venezuela National Team (Oita Stadium)
Sat. 17 November PM Training
Sun. 18 November PM Training
Mon. 19 November PM Official Training
Tue. 20 November 4-0 KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2018
vs Kyrgyz Republic National Team (Toyota Stadium)

*The schedule is subject to change due to the team condition, the weather, etc.

Tue. 20 November 19:20 Kick-off
Toyota Stadium, Aichi
SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) vs Kyrgyz Republic National Team

Match Information

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