Nippon TV Menina crowned as Champions for the 8th time at JFA 22nd U-18 Japan Women's Football Championship JOC Junior Olympic Cup
08 January 2019
On Monday 7 January, the third-place match and the final of JFA 22nd U-18 Japan Women's Football Championship JOC Junior Olympic Cup took place at J-GREEN Sakai, where Nippon TV Menina (Kanto1/Tokyo) was crowned as Champions for the first time in four years.
Nojima Stella Kanagawa Sagamihara DUE 1-2 (0-0, 1-2) INAC Kobe Leoncina
The third-place match featured two sides who made their first semi-finals appearance, Nojima Stella Kanagawa Sagamihara DUE (Kanto4/Kanagawa) and INAC Kobe Leoncina (Kansai2/Hyogo).
It was the Nojima side who took the initiative of this match, as they came close to scoring the opener in the second and fifth minute of the match, with shots taken by HIROSAWA Maho and FUKUHARA Yuka respectively, but they were both denied by the opposing goalkeeper. Following the 10th minute mark, INAC Kobe started to regain their composure and displayed good ball movements, but neither sides managed to score a goal, sending the match into halftime scoreless.
The deadlock was broken in the 58th minute, when a member of the U-18 Japan Women’s National Team shortlisted squad, HARA Miina, received the ball just outside of the penalty area. The midfielder who will join the Nadeshiko Div.1 side AC Nagano Parceiro Ladies next season, dribbled up into the box and converted the opportunity with ease, as she later reflected, “The opposing defender looked tired and they didn’t come out aggressively so kept my composure and took the shot.”
The match would be tied in the 74th minute, when Nojima’s Hirosawa chased down a through ball to take on the goalkeeper one-on-one. The striker’s shot was once blocked by the Kobe defender, but NISHIGORI Mahiro was there to convert the loose ball to equalise the match at 1-1.
With the home crowd supporting their back, INAC Kobe gradually gained momentum and the golden opportunity came in the 85th minute, when SAWADA Tomoka converted a corner kick with a header to give her side a 2-1 lead. INAC Kobe will go onto maintain their lead against Nojima to earn third place of the tournament.
Nippon TV Menina 2-1 (0-1, 2-0) Cerezo Osaka Sakai Girls
The final was played between Nippon TV Menina and Cerezo Osaka Sakai Girls (Kansai1/Osaka). After finishing in third place last year, Nippon TV was seeking for their first title in four years, while the Cerezo Osaka side has advanced to the final in four consecutive years.
With Nippon TV constructing the attacks through build-ups from their defence line, Cerezo Osaka’s Coach OKAMOTO Miyo mentioned, “We focused on the quality of our defence in the first 15 minutes of the first half.” The Osaka side’s game plan proved to be effective, as they took control of the match by limiting the attacks of Nippon TV through the aggressive pressure applied from their front line. Cerezo Osaka got off to a great start as they captured the opening goal in the eighth minute, when their forward MOMONO Miyuka stripped off the ball from Nippon TV’s SUGANO Oto, before dribbling into the penalty area and striking a shot into the net.
In efforts to level the match, Nippon TV created opportunities, including Sugano’s attempt to dribble through the Cerezo defence, but they failed to construct an effective build-up to score the equaliser during the first half.
The second half saw Nippon TV shifting their centre half, MATSUDA Shino to her natural fullback position to gain mobility in the flanks. This change allowed the Tokyo side to create more opportunities from the left flank, as Matsuda made numbers of overlapping runs to threaten the Cerezo goal.
The equaliser came in the 61st minute when Nippon TV forced a turnover in the left side, allowing HIJIKATA Maya to dribble up the field before striking a powerful shot from the outside of the penalty area. The shot went off the Cerezo goalkeeper’s fingers and shook the net.
Once levelling the match, Nippon TV gained great momentum and led them to the deciding goal in the 75th minute. The play started with KINOSHITA Momoka delivering a long ball to switch the point of attack. It was KIMURA Sana who laid down the ball to allow OYAMA Aemu to strike an ambitious shot from distance. The shot sailed over the Cerezo goalkeeper’s head, striking the crossbar, and deflected off the goalkeeper’s back to break the goal line. This goal gave Nippon TV their first title in four years, eighth overall title at the JFA 22nd U-18 Japan Women's Football Championship JOC Junior Olympic Cup.
Coaches and Players' Comments
FURUKAWA Masahiro, Coach (Nippon TV Menina)
Our players were fatigued from the tight match schedule and we weren’t able to adjust against the aggressive pressure applied by our opponents, which made it tough for us to construct our usual build-ups. After conceding the opening goal, it was evident that our players became passive in both their mental status and their performance. During halftime, we changed our positions in order to gain mobility, but more than anything, I told my players that their willingness to win the match will determine the outcome. At the end, I believe that their strong will has led to the goals we scored today. This past four years has been tough for us, but I feel like everything we have worked over that time has finally prevailed today.
MATSUDA Shino (Nippon TV Menina)
We struggled to cope with the pressure applied by our opponents and lost our composure in the first half. It disabled us from playing our usual style. During halftime, our coach told us that our supporters who came to watch us must be disappointed with our performance. That really made me want to do better, especially because this was my final match as a member of Menina. I didn’t want to leave any regrets, so I was committed to score back a goal in the second half. It helped that we managed to equalise early in the second half, which gave us the momentum to find our rhythm. I am glad that I was able to finish my time with this team with the title.
OKAMOTO Miyo, Coach (Cerezo Osaka Sakai Girls)
It’s regretful because we had our chances to extend our lead. However, that is a crucial aspect that will deeply affect the outcome, and we weren’t critical enough to capitalise those opportunities. Menina had the upper hand in terms of the overall performance, techniques, and tactical aspects, so this loss has given us the opportunity to find out what we need to work on. We must utilise this experience to get better. We failed to adjust against our opponent’s change in formation. Our team needs to improve on the ability to cope with changes on the field, game control, and strategic techniques. I truly felt that there was a major gap between the two sides today.
MOMONO Miyuka (Cerezo Osaka Sakai Girls)
I have never faced them before, so ahead of the match, I had a mixed feeling of joy and eagerness to win. As expected, our opponents were really good, but we managed to showcase our strengths as well. At this moment it’s really disappointing that we finished as the runners-up in consecutive years. (Regarding the goal scene) The two forwards communicated well to force the turnover and it went just as we planned, but overall, our opponents had the upper hand in terms of the quality of their passes and ball control. It made it difficult for us to apply pressure upfront. I wasn’t able to play in many matches last year, but his year I was given the opportunity to play in many matches. I kept on running until the very end and play with great confidence. It really made me realise how much I have improved over the year.
JFA 22nd U-18 Japan Women's Football Championship JOC Junior Olympic Cup
Tournament Dates: Thu. 3 - Mon. 7 January 2019
Tournament Venue: J-GREEN Sakai, Osaka
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