【Match Report】U-20 Japan National Team win over Jordan to earn ticket to the FIFA U-20 World Cup Indonesia 2023™
13 March 2023
On Sunday 12 March, the quarterfinals of the AFC U20 Asian Cup Uzbekistan 2023 took place at Lokomotiv Stadium, where the U-20 Japan National Team faced the U-20 Jordan National Team.
With the top four finishers of the tournament being granted a place in the FIFA U-20 World Cup Indonesia 2023™, the quarterfinals served as the decisive round for the eight teams. Ahead of the big match, Head Coach TOGASHI Koichi commented, “We need overcome the pressure in order to win. These players are under 20 years old and are still developing as players. I want them to give it their all and not be afraid to make mistakes.”
In this crucial match, Japan started KIMURA Ryoya (Nihon University) in goal with TANAKA Hayato (Kashiwa Reysol), KIKUCHI Shuta (Shimizu S-Pulse), YASHIKI Yusei (Oita Trinita), and TAKAHASHI Cendagorta Niko (FC Barcelona) forming the defence line. YAMANE Riku (Yokohama F. Marinos) and SANO Kodai (Fagiano Okayama) were paired as the defensive midfielders with MATSUKI Kuryu (FC Tokyo) playing the number 10 role. SAKAMOTO Isa (Fagiano Okayama) started as the centre forward with KODA Hidemasa (Nagoya Grampus) and KITANO Sota (Cerezo Osaka) placed in the flanks.
Despite the pressure and the wet pitch condition, coach Togashi later reflected, “I was confident that everything would be fine after watching the way the players were warming up.” Due to the heavy down pour before the match, the match took place on a slippery pitch condition, which made the players even more careful not to take unnecessary risks, as the Japanese coach also mentioned, “We had no problem finishing the first half 0-0.”
As Tanaka later commented, “The match progressed just as we expected. Our intention was to keep the first half scoreless and attack in the second half, when our opponents were fatigued,” Japan started to increase their pressure in the second half.
The deadlock was broken in the 54th minute, when Sakamoto and Kitano linked up to force a turnover in the attacking third, as Sakamoto recalled, “I had confidence in my ability to win the ball, so I was anticipating for that opportunity.” After winning the ball, Kitano carried the ball into the box before cutting a pass back to Sakamoto who calmly slotted the ball into the net.
With momentum on their side, Japan continued to pressurise the opposition who were showing signs of fatigue. KUMATA Naoki (FC Tokyo), who entered the match as a substitute just past the hour mark, scored the second goal in the 70th minute, when he converted the deflection of Kitano’s shot, as the striker later commented, “I was anticipating for that deflection.”
Led by their team captain Matsuki, Japan managed to maintain their focus to hold onto their lead, wining the match 2-0. With this victory, Japan has now qualified for the FIFA U-20 World Cup Indonesia 2023™.
Coach and Players’ Comments
TOGASHI Koichi, Head Coach of U-20 Japan National Team
I think it was a game in which the players fought very calmly and passionately. Despite the level of competition rising, I think we were able to control the game throughout the 90 minutes. At half-time, I told the players that if we continued to move the ball around, our opponents would eventually slowdown in the second half, so I told them not to miss that opportunity. As we experience difficult matches, the players have developed beyond my wildest imagination.
DF #3 TANAKA Hayato (Kashiwa Reysol)
We all entered the match with the mindset that we are against a stronger opponent than any of the teams we have faced so far. Because of the difficult pitch condition, we tried to keep ourselves compact and lift the ball even when passing the ball between the centre backs. We had played on tough pitch conditions during the first round, so I think that experience has helped us today. Yamane, Sano, and Matsuki did a great job pressing back and they really helped us keep a clean sheet.
MF #7 MATSUKI Kuryu (FC Tokyo)
It was a very tough match, but we were able to fight through as a team. Although the first half really tried our patience, we managed to score two goals in the second half. It is also great that we were able to keep a clean sheet today. We are happy to have qualified for the World Cup, but our goal is to win this tournament, so we will continue to work hard to achieve our goal.
FW #11 SAKAMOTO Isa (Fagiano Okayama)
When I scored the goal, everything felt like it was in slow motion, and I was able to keep my cool to slot the ball into the net. I was very happy when I scored that goal. My teammates celebrated that goal by piling on top of me, but I kept shouting with joy. There were times when I was frustrated not being a starter, but I kept thinking, I'm not going to let that get me down.
AFC U20 Asian Cup Uzbekistan 2023
Tournament Dates: Wed. 1 - Sat. 18 March 2023
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