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U-18 Japan National Team loses to Spain in their final match of U-19 International Tournament "Copa del Atlantico"

09 February 2019

U-18 Japan National Team loses to Spain in their final match of U-19 International Tournament

"Copa del Atlantico" 3rd Match vs U-18 Spain National Team
Fri. 8 February 2019 Kick-off 18: 30 (Local time) Match Duration 90mins (45mins×2)
Anex Gran Canaria Stadium (Canary Islands, Spain)

U-18 Japan National Team 0-4 (0-2, 0-2) U-18 Spain National Team

13' goal against (U-18 Spain National Team)
36' goal against (U-18 Spain National Team)
67' goal against (U-18 Spain National Team)
72' goal against (U-18 Spain National Team)

Starting Line-up

FW: FUJIO Shota, SOMENO Itsuki

76' UEMATSU Kento → NAKAMURA Takumi
76' MATSUOKA Daiki → SOMENO Itsuki
84' SAKURAGAWA Soromon → FUJIO Shota

Match Report

After winning their first two matches, the U-18 Japan National Team squared off against the U-18 Spain National Team in their final match of the U-19 International Tournament "Copa del Atlantico" on Friday 8 February.

With the two sides playing with the tournament title at stake, the match was surrounded with an intense atmosphere. Despite displaying an equally matched bout in the first 10 minutes, Japan gave up the opening goal from a penalty kick conceded by a hand ball committed in the 13th minute. Following the opener, Spain completely took control of the match as they effectively utilised the flanks to create opportunities. Spain came close to scoring another goal in the 18th minute, but the Japanese goalkeeper MITSUI Daiki was there to make the save. Another opportunity was created in the 34th minute when a lobbing feed was delivered towards the Japanese goal, allowing a Spanish player to strike a shot off a loose ball, but the attempt sailed away from the target. Despite the efforts made by the Japanese defenders to keep the score line intact, Spain captured their second goal in the 36th minute. Now down by two goals, Japan started to rally back as their golden opportunity came in the 43rd minute when ODA Yutaro broke through the right flank before sending a well-timed cross towards the far post where SAKURAGAWA Soromon connected perfectly with the ball, but the shot was blocked by an excellent save made by the opposing goalkeeper. A minute later UEMATSU Kento struck a shot from a loose ball, but his shot was also denied by the goalkeeper, sending the match into halftime with a score of 0-2.

In efforts to close down the gap, Japan applied aggressive pressure to start off the second half, while the Spanish side continued to showcase their quality techniques to control the match. With their accurate and fast paced passes, along with their superb ball control skills, Spain showed an excellent performance on the field despite making changes to their line-up. The Japanese players made attempts by feeding the ball to their forwards, but the ball was easily stripped off by the collective defence work displayed by Spain. While showing great composure in defence, the Spanish side were also critical in their finishing, as they captured their third and fourth goal in the 67th and 72nd minute respectively. Despite seeing NAKAYAMA Riku making one last attempt at goal towards the final minutes, the match ended with a score of 0-4 to give Spain the tournament title in dominating fashion.

Coach and Players' Comments

KAGEYAMA Masanaga, Coach (U-18 Japan National Team)
With our eyes set on the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2021, the U-18 Japan National Team started its activities here at the Copa del Atlantico, held in Gran Canaria of the Canary Islands, Spain. Last year, the U-17 Japan National Team has participated in four different tournaments, but with this being our first tournament since I was appointed to lead the team for the next few years, we entered the Canary Islands with a fresh intention. During the two-day preparation period, we focused on building the foundation of the team, that will last for the years to come. Instead of working on the small details, I asked my players to share the same mentality to work hard as a team in both offence and defence. The players did fantastically to express our team concept and worked hard to heighten the quality of our team work. With back-to-back wins, we made it to the final match against the U-18 Spain National team for the tournament title, but the quality of play showcased by the Spanish side was just astonishing. Not to mention that their team consist many players already making their debut at the La Liga, and their key player, MOLLEJO had to leave this morning to join his club team, Atletico Madrid, for the Madrid derby scheduled tomorrow. Their style is the opposite from the current trend of possession-based football. They utilise a 1-4-4-2 formation and dominated the match with their quality of play and speed. Our players fought hard to win the ball and showed great persistency, but in all aspects, our opponents had the upper hand. Including myself, it was a shocking loss, but it has also given us a clear idea of what to expect at the world level. This was a great learning experience that will certainly affect the way our players approach each day from now.

GK #1 MITSUI Daiki (Nagoya Grampus U-18)
In our match against the U-18 Spain National Team, our opponents had the upper hand in terms of speed and strengths, both at the team and individual level. The Spanish goalkeeper was not so tall, but his responses towards shots were quick and consisted great composure in the build-ups as well. However, we did see some plays from our own build-ups to create opportunities and our speed of transitions were some of the positive aspects we can take back from this tour. Once we return to our clubs, we hope to implement this experience and utilise it to improve ourselves through the daily trainings. I will cherish each day and work hard so that I can get called up to this team again.

MF #6 MATSUOKA Daiki (Sagan Tosu U-18)
The individual speed, strengths, and techniques showcased by the U-18 Spain National Team were absolutely dominating. It was a very disappointing reality, but it made us realise and experience in first-hand the top level of the world. The way they placed their first touches, the passes that allows the receiver to effectively utilise their momentum, and their technique to apply physical pressure when the ball holder is off balance, these were all the things I have learnt from this match. This tour has given us the opportunity to realise the gap between ourselves and the top level of the world, so we hope to feed off of this experience and work hard at our own clubs to fill the gap. I will heighten my quality as a player so that I can once again play at the world stage with this team.

MF #10 YAMAMOTO Rihito (Tokyo Verdy)
With the tournament title at stake, our players were very focused from the warmups today. However, the match was completely dominated by the U-18 Spain National Team, who showed great quality in their fundamental skills, such as passing, ball control, and their quick approach to the ball. Besides the fundamentals, the speed and quality of their decision makings were astonishing and their critical finishing skills were also at the top level of the world. This tour has made us realise that our passing and ball control skills needs much more improvements, and that there is a huge gap between the world. Once I return to Japan, I will implement what I have learnt from this tour and work hard each day so that I can get myself closer to the world standard.

FW #9 SAKURAGAWA Soromon (Jef United Ichihara Chiba U-18)
We knew today’s match would be a tough one, but we didn’t expect our opponents to be this dominating. The pace of their passes and their individual skills were much higher than ours. We saw a huge gap in the fundamental techniques to control the ball as well as the plays in the movement, and the ability to finish with quality shots. There were few aspects we managed to execute effectively, so we hope to build on those aspects, while we improve our overall level. There is going to be another activity for the U-18 Japan National Team in March, so I will work hard to get selected into the squad. If I can return to this team again, I hope to see if I have shortened the distance from the world level and check out how effective I can be against the powerhouses of the world.


U-19 International Tournament "Copa del Atlantico"
Tue. 5 February 2-1 1st Match vs U-18 Canary Islands Select Team
(Municipal de Maspalomas)
Wed. 6 February 6-0 2nd Match vs U-18 Serbia National Team
(Anex Gran Canaria Stadium)
Thu. 7 February TBC Training
Fri. 8 February 0-4 3rd Match vs U-18 Spain National Team
(Anex Gran Canaria Stadium)

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

U-19 International Tournament "Copa del Atlantico"

Dates: Tue. 5 - Fri. 8 February 2019
Venue: Municipal de Maspalomas, Anex Gran Canaria Stadium

Tournament Information

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