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HOME > SAMURAI BLUE 2018 > NEWS > SAMURAI BLUE draws 1-1 with Venezuela National Team at KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2018


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SAMURAI BLUE draws 1-1 with Venezuela National Team at KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2018

17 November 2018

SAMURAI BLUE draws 1-1 with Venezuela National Team at KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2018

On Friday 16 November, the SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) faced the Venezuela National Team in the KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2018 at Oita Stadium. Despite taking the lead with SAKAI Hiroki’s (Olympique de Marseille) goal in the first half, the Japan conceded the equaliser from a penalty kick late in the second half to finish with a score of 1-1.

Since Coach MORIYASU Hajime took over the helm in September, the Japan National Team has a perfect record of three wins in three matches played. However, prior to their fourth match, the team faced an unexpected challenge as their bus from their hotel to the stadium was stuck in traffic, leaving just 45 minutes for the team to prepare ahead of the match. This was the same for the Venezuela National Team as well as the referees, setting up an unusual situation where both sides weren’t given sufficient time to warm-up.

Japan started a similar line-up from their match against Uruguay played in October. Goalkeeper SCHMIDT Daniel (Vegalta Sendai) made his national team debut, while defender TOMIYASU Takehiro (Sint-Truidense V.V.) made his second cap, and SASAKI Sho (Sanfrecce Hiroshima) was named as the left fullback. Other than that, familiar faces featured the line-up as OSAKO Yuya (Werder Bremen) played as the lone striker, with MINAMINO Takumi (FC Red Bull Salzburg), who has scored four goals in the recent three matches, playing just beneath him.

The early minutes of the match saw Japan struggling to pick up their pace, perhaps due to the lack of warm-up time prior to the match. It was evident that DOAN Ritsu (FC Groningen) and NAKAJIMA Shoya (Portimonense S.C.) were not on top of their game.

While most players failed to find their rhythm, it was the 20-year old Tomiyasu who shined in the first half. In the 12th minute, Salomon RONDON, who plays in the English Premier League, broke through the goal area before lobbing the ball over the head of the Japanese goalkeeper Schmidt. With the ball making its way towards the open goal, Tomiyasu came to the rescue to clear the ball away from the goal-mouth.

The Venezuelan side featured many young players with great size and speed. With the young talents, the team showcased well organised defence and versatile offence that utilised their individual techniques. They created multiple opportunities from their right fullback Roberto ROSALES and midfielder Darwin MACHIS, however, as time progressed, Japan started to take the initiative of the match.

In the 26th minute, Osako received the ball in the penalty area before laying the ball off to Doan who struck a shot with his right foot, but his effort sailed off the target.

Nakajima broke through and faced the goalkeeper one-on-one in the 34th minute, when he chased down a through ball delivered by Osako, but his lobbing shot was saved by the opposing goalkeeper.

The opening goal came in the 39th minute, when Sakai converted a freekick delivered by Nakajima, as his right footed volley shook the net. For Sakai, this was his first national team goal in 49 caps.

In the 44th minute, Nakajima came close to scoring a goal when he received a pass from Osako but came short from finding the back of the net, as the match entered halftime with a 1-0 lead for Japan. At the beginning of the second half, Nakajima, Doan, and Osako combined well with each other to create numbers of big opportunities for Japan, entertaining the 33,364 supporters who showed up at the stadium.

In efforts to change the dynamics of the match, Venezuela started to make numbers of substitutions on the pitch. Japan responded by bringing in KITAGAWA Koya (Shimizu S-Pulse) and HARAGUCHI Genki (Hannover 96) in the 68th minute, followed by SUGIMOTO Kenyu (Cerezo Osaka) and ITO Junya (Kashiwa Reysol) in the 77th minute. Haraguchi came close to scoring a goal when he penetrated the penalty area before striking a shot from close distance, but his attempt was blocked by the goalkeeper.

The second goal of the match came in the 81st minute, when Venezuelan midfielder Luis GONZALEZ was taken down in the penalty area. Veteran midfielder Tomas RINCON, who play for the Italian side Torino, converted this spot kick to level the match.

Seeking for their fourth consecutive victory under the Moriyasu regime, Japan continued to attack with aggression, as Kitagawa’s close range shot in the 90th minute came closed to capturing the goal. YOSHIDA Maya (Southampton FC) struck a header into the goal in additional time, but his attempt was called offsides. Kitagawa had another opportunity at the end, but his shot was once again denied by the opposing defenders. Despite their final efforts, the match ended with a score of 1-1.

The Japan National Team will now face the Kyrgyz Republic National Team on Tuesday 20 November at Toyota Stadium, Aichi.

Coaches and Players' Comments

MORIYASU Hajime, Coach of SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team)
We were stuck in traffic on our way to the stadium and we were on the verge of not making it on time, however, many people including the Oita police officers helped us make it to the stadium before the kick-off time. We are grateful for everyone’s support. Venezuela showed great techniques, fought very aggressively to win the ball, and initiated their attacks from their solid defence. Despite the lack of warm-up time, our players managed to stay focused and play our style of football. It was great that we scored the opening goal to take the initiative of the match. We created many opportunities following the first goal, so it would have been better if we scored more goals and won the match, but the opponents were very strong. The fact that we conceded a goal is an aspect we must work on moving forward. Overall, the players showed great aggression to attack the goal and utilised the width of the field effectively to create variations in their attacks. Schmidt did well in his national team debut, as his foot skills helped us build up our plays from the goalkeeper.

DF #22 YOSHIDA Maya (Southampton FC)
It’s been a while since we last played a match in Kyushu, so I really wanted to score a goal, and win the match. It is easy for a team to lose momentum following a mediocre performance, so it is important for us to pick up our performance in our next match to limit the variance. Good teams generally have low variance in terms of their swings, so the next match will be a big test for us.

DF #19 SAKAI Hiroki (Olympique de Marseille)
(Regarding the goal) All the credit goal to Nakajima. He delivered the ball just where I wanted. Personally, as a fullback, assists are more important than goals, and as a defender, our highest priority is on keeping a clean sheet. In that sense, I am not satisfied with our performance today. We had to win the match. It’s especially regretful because my play cost our team a goal. It was tough to enter the match without much time to warm-up, but our opponents were in the same situation, so we must be able to make adjustments even in such circumstances.

FW #13 KITAGAWA Koya (Shimizu S-Pulse)
The opposing defenders came out applying high pressure when I had the ball, so I focused on playing like Osako. It would have been great if I scored a goal, but I will just keep on doing my job as a striker and take as many shots as possible.

Rafael DUDAMEL, Coach (Venezuela National Team)
Japan showcased a very high-level and compact plays with great dynamics. Our players did well to understand how our opponents played and made the adjustments accordingly. We utilised the long-balls to give Japan a hard time defending against us. The Japanese players were very quick in transitions, and our defenders made many errors in their decision makings, but we were able to adjust in the second half. I think the final score reflects the performance of both sides and we are satisfied with it.


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 19:20 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.

Fri. 16 November 19:30 Kick-off
Oita Stadium, Oita
SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) vs Venezuela National Team

Match Information

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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