SAMURAI BLUE loses to Chile 0-4 at the CONMEBOL Copa America Brazil 2019
18 June 2019
On Monday 17 June, the SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) faced the Chile National Team in the CONMEBOL Copa America Brazil 2019 at Morumbi Stadium, Sao Paulo. Japan entered the match with a fresh line-up with six players earning their first cap but suffered a crushing loss to the South American powerhouse with a score of 0-4.
In their first match of the Copa America, coach MORIYASU Hajime employed a 4-2-3-1 formation with eight players from the U-22 generation. With OSAKO Keisuke (Sanfrecce Hiroshima) starting in goal, HARA Teruki (Sagan Tosu), UEDA Naomichi (Cercle Brugge K.S.V.), TOMIYASU Takehiro (Sint-Truidense V.V.), and SUGIOKA Daiki (Shonan Bellmare) featured the defence line, while SHIBASAKI Gaku (Getafe C.F.) and NAKAYAMA Yuta (PEC Zwolle) played as the defensive midfielders. With MAEDA Daizen (Matsumoto Yamaga FC) and NAKAJIMA Shoya (Al Duhail SC) playing in the sides, KUBO Takefusa (Real Madrid) was named as the attacking midfielder, along with UEDA Ayase (Hosei University) playing as the lone striker.
Among the U-22 players, who are considered to be the Tokyo Olympics generation, Osako, Hara, Sugioka, Nakayama, Maeda, and Ueda made their first senior team cap at this match. With the resounding chorus of the Chilean national anthem echoing through the large stadium, the match kicked-off under an enormous atmosphere. Despite being surrounded by a complete away atmosphere, the young Samurais did not seem to be affected, as Osako reflected, “After experiencing last year’s AFC U-19 Championship in Indonesia, this didn’t really affect me much,” while Ueda also said, “It gave me more motivation.”
As Hara later mentioned, “Ahead of the match, our coach told us that we must fight for the ball with greater intensity than our opponents and outrun our opponents,” Japan started off the match by applying aggressive pressure as they fought courageously to win the ball. It was Chile who took control of the match, but Japan still managed to showcase a persistent effort to keep the match at 0-0 for the most part of the first half. However, as Osako later reflected the scene, “That was a crucial goal,” Japan conceded the opener in the 41st minute, when Erick PULGAR struck a header from a corner kick. Following the goal, Japan did manage to create a close opportunity when Ueda responded to a through ball sent by Shibasaki, but couldn’t capitalise on the one-on-one situation, as the match entered halftime with Chile leading 1-0.
Chile managed to double their lead in the early minutes of the second half, as Eduardo VARGAS scored an excellent shot from mid-range to make it 2-0 at the 54th minute mark. In efforts to rally back, Japan continued to press forward, as Kubo and Ueda both had their opportunities upfront, but fell short from capitalising their chances. Conversely, Chile captured back-to-back goals in the 81st and 83rd minute, only to seal the deal in their first match of the Copa America.
After the match, coach Moriyasu commented, “With this loss, we must acknowledge that between Chile and us, there was a huge difference in the offensive abilities.” However, the Japanese commander also mentioned that, “Our players fought courageously to challenge the two-time defending champions and they gave their utmost efforts for the entire match. We hope to feed off of this match to do better in our next match.”
Although this 0-4 defeat was a disappointing result for the SAMRUAI BLUE, the CONMEBOL Copa America Brazil 2019 has just begun. Their next match will take place on Thursday 20 (Friday 21 Japan time) against the Uruguay National Team.
Coach and Players' Comments
MORIYASU Hajime, Coach of SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team)
The fact that we conceded four goals is already in the books, so we just have to make the adjustments from here on. Today, I sent off my players by telling them that it’s important to challenge with the intention to win the match. The players responded by showcasing courageous efforts throughout the match in both offence and defence. Chile consisted with players with great quality, and their decision makings, play speed, and defensive intensity were at a very high level. They were also capable of capitalising on the slimmest chances. However, we made a pretty strong case for ourselves as well. We still need to heighten the quality of our decision makings and plays when the pace of the match is at a high level, but if we can be more critical at the final third, we can still compete at this level. We saw it in this match that we were able to create very close opportunities. So, in our next match, we will focus on our plays in the final third and strive to earn positive results.
DF #2 SUGIOKA Daiki (Shonan Bellmare)
The individual strengths, speed, and quality showcased by our opponents were at a very high level, and they were capable of scoring goals at any give time. We need to pick up our play speed in order to compete at this level. In our next match, we will stay more alerted and communicate with each other to showcase a better team performance.
MF #7 SHIBASAKI Gaku (Getafe C.F.)
In order to understand why we finished the match the way we did, we must thoroughly review and analyse the pros and cons of this match. We entered the match with the intention to apply pressure aggressively and focused on possessing the ball. However, as time progressed, we started to lose the second ball to Chile and gave away the initiative. We created similar amounts of opportunities, but our opponents were much more critical in their chances. There are so many issues we need to address, but for now, we will get rested and analyse this match to prepare ourselves ahead of our next match.
MF #21 KUBO Takefusa (Real Madrid)
It was a very tough match, but we’ll just have to bounce back from it. Although we managed to create some close opportunities, we weren’t able to convert them, while Chile capitalise on their chances, so that was the difference of this match. I would like to be on the celebrating side for the next match, so I will give my utmost efforts to help the team win.
CONMEBOL Copa America Brazil 2019
Tournament Dates: Fri. 14 June - Sun. 7 July 2019
Tue. 18 June 2019, 8:00 (Japan time)
vs Chile National Team
Fri. 21 June 2019, 8:00 (Japan time)
vs Uruguay National Team
Tue. 25 June 2019, 8:00 (Japan time)
vs Ecuador National Team
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