Despite losing to Portugal, U-22 Japan National Team advances to Semi-Finals of the 47th Toulon International Tournament 2019
08 June 2019
On Friday 7 June, the U-22 Japan National Team played their third match of the 47th Toulon International Tournament 2019 against the Portugal National Team. Despite creating numbers of close opportunities, Japan failed to convert their chances and lost the match 0-1.
Following their match against the U-22 Chile National Team, acting coach YOKOUCHI Akinobu changed eight players from their starting line-up. With HATANO Go starting in goal, OMINAMI Takuma, OKAZAKI Makoto, and TANAKA Shunta were named as the three defenders. While MATSUOKA Daiki and TANAKA Ao played as the defensive midfielders, NAGANUMA Yoichi and FUNAKI Kakeru were positioned in the flanks. It was KOMATSU Ren who was named as the lone striker upfront with KAMIYA Yuta and ITO Tatsuya positioned just beneath him.
It was Portugal who took the initiative in the early minutes of the match. With strong wind blowing on the pitch, Japan struggled to connect their passes to build up their plays, as they frequently gave away the ball from their own mistakes. However, Japan still managed to create close opportunities, as Naganuma struck a shot from distance in the 12th minute, followed by Kamiya’s attempt from a direct freekick taken in the 24th minute. Their defence also showed great persistency to keep a clean sheet and finished the first half scoreless.
With Portugal starting to show signs of fatigue, the second half saw the Japanese side gaining momentum in their offence. Utilising their speed at the flanks, Japan started to create more and more opportunities from their side attacks. In the 67th minute, Naganuma dribbled up the right flank before entering the penalty area and struck a shot, but his effort was stopped by a superb save made by the Portuguese goalkeeper.
Despite taking full control over the match, it was Japan who conceded the first goal in the 84th minute. The goal came from a simple pass that exploited the space behind the Japanese defence line, as the Portuguese attacker calmly converted the opportunity to take the lead. Although Japan continued push forward to score the equaliser, the match ended with a score of 0-1, giving Portugal the victory.
After the match, coach Yokouchi mentioned, “We needed to create more opportunities, while we also had to be more critical in those spots.” The coach also reflected on the scene where the team conceded the only goal of the match, “We were completely caught off guards.” With this loss, Japan finished the group stage with a record of two wins and one loss. Despite losing to Portugal, Japan finished as the group leader with their advantage in goal differential, clinching their spot into the semi-finals.
Coach and Players' Comments
YOKOUCHI Akinobu, Acting Coach
After showcasing great performances in our first two matches, we struggled mightily in today’s match after our opponents started off the match with great intensity in the first half. However, our players did a great job to keep their patience and finish the first half scoreless. Despite facing the downwind in the second half, our team surprisingly dominated the half by outrunning our opponents and showcasing great ball movements. I just wish we had capitalised on our opportunities during that stretch. We saw some very close opportunities, so it’s very regretful that we couldn’t convert those few chances we had.
MF #4 TANAKA Ao (Kawasaki Frontale)
It’s hard to comment after losing a match. We simply weren’t good enough, because a strong team will not drop a match like this. I feel like our overall performance was worthy of winning the match. At a personal level, I need to make fewer mistakes and position myself in a higher position when our team is attacking.
MF #6 NAGANUMA Yoichi (Ehime FC)
Following our first two matches, we were in position to clinch our spot to the semi-finals with a draw or better, but we struggled to move the ball around in the first half. After finishing the first half 0-0, we were able to play with composure and take control of the match. We also managed to create some great opportunities in the second half but ended up conceding a goal from our own mistakes, making this result that much regretful for us.
FW #9 OGAWA Koki (Jubilo Iwata)
With the team desperately needing a goal, I entered the match with a strong intention to score a goal. I personally haven’t scored any goals thus far, so I really wanted to contribute to the team’s victory by scoring a goal. While my enthusiasm occasionally helped me make some good plays, it also made me rush my plays at times. When looking back on my performance, I feel like there were some situations I needed to be more patient and play with more composure.
|The 47th Toulon International Tournament 2019|
|Sat. 1 June||2-1||1st Match vs England
(Aubagne/Stade de Lattre)
|Sun. 2 June||AM||Training|
|Mon. 3 June||AM||Training|
|Tue. 4 June||6-1||2nd Match vs Chile
|Wed. 5 June||AM||Training|
|Thu. 6 June||AM||Training|
|Fri. 7 June||0-1||3rd Match vs Portugal
|Sat. 8 June||AM||Training|
|Sun. 9 June||AM||Training|
|Mon. 10 June||AM||Training|
|Wed. 12 June||15:00/17:30||Semi-Finals vs Leader of Group C
or Best 2nd place finisher
(Aubagne/Stade de Lattre)
|Fri. 14 June||AM||Training|
|Sat. 15 June||13:30/16:00||3rd Place Match/Final (Salon/Stade D'Honneur)|
*The schedule is subject to change due to the team condition, the weather, etc.
The 47th Toulon International Tournament 2019
Tournament Dates: Sat. 1 - Sat. 15 June 2019
Sat. 1 2019, 22:05 (Japan Time)
vs England National Team
Tue. 4 June 2019, 23:05 (Japan Time)
vs Chile National Team
Sat. 8 June 2019, 00:05 (Japan Time)
vs Portugal National Team
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