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Nadeshiko Japan lose to DPR Korea and miss their chance to win the title for three straight championships ~ EAFF E-1 Football Championship 2017 Final Japan ~

16 December 2017

Nadeshiko Japan lose to DPR Korea and miss their chance to win the title for three straight championships ~ EAFF E-1 Football Championship 2017 Final Japan ~

Nadeshiko Japan played against DPR Korea Women's National Team in the third match of the EAFF E-1 Football Championship 2017 Final Japan at Chiba/Soga Sports Park (Fukuda Denshi Arena) on Friday 15 December.

In the match that kicked off at 18:55, Nadeshiko Japan changed five players from the second game. Starting fullbacks were UTSUGI Rumi on the left and TAKAGI Hikari on the right, while MOMIKI Yuka started as a left midfielder and HAJI Madoka was positioned at right midfielder. IWABUCHI Mana and TANAKA Mina paired up as two forwards upfront.

On the other hand, DPR Korea had a very young line-up with an average age of 21.9 years old and started the same players as the second match.

Both teams had won two prior games, but DPR Korea were placed above Japan on goal difference. The Nadeshiko squad had to win the match to clinch the championship.

In the first half, Japan kept better possession of the ball and moved up ball by connecting short passes, but were forced to play in tighter areas compared to the previous two games, facing stronger and quicker pressure from DPR Korea. The Japanese internationals passed the ball freely on their side of the pitch, but once they entered the opposing end, they struggled to move the ball effectively and were kept to a single attempt at goal before halftime. In the 23rd minute, Tanaka, after receiving a pass from SAKAGUCHI Mizuho, fired a strong shot on the turn with her left leg, but her effort went wide to the right of the goal.

In the match where the largest number of people in this championship for the women’s game came to see the match, the 5,227 fans, despite a scoreless first half, cheered loudly seeing plenty of exciting plays before both sides entered the break.

In the second half, DPR Korea displayed their strength in stamina and mental toughness and put Japan under more severe pressure.

The deadlock was broken after a pair of shots from DPR Korea. KIM Yun Mi met a right corner with a header in the 61st minute, but Japanese goalkeeper IKEDA Sakiko secured it firmly. However, it was her second attempt that found the Nadeshiko’s net four minutes later. The DPR Korean striker fired from 22 yards out and gave her side an awaited goal and a one-goal advantage.

With this goal, Japan needed to score at least two goals in order to win the championship. Substitute NAKAJIMA Emi moved to the centre to impact the game, but the Nadeshiko squad continue to struggle in creating effective attacks.

After 82 minutes, DPR Korea succeeded in doubling the lead. KIM Phyong Hwa surged up the left flank and sent a cross to the far side, where RI Hyang Sim netted the second for her team.

Japan brought on two new players, SUGASAWA Yuika and NAKASATO Yu, and changed their formation to back three and went all out to score goals. In the closing minutes of the game, Sugasawa tried to control the right cross from Nakajima and DPR Korea attempted to clear it out of danger, but Haji reacted to the clearance and struck at goal. However, her effort blazed above the crossbar. DPR Korea were tenacious in defence even during the four minutes of added time and did not allow the Japanese counterparts to net one into their net, before the match ended 2-0.

As a result, DPR Korea won all the three matches in the competition and claimed their third straight championship titles, while Japan finished in second place with two wins and one loss.

In the other fixture that was held prior to this game, China PR beat Korea Republic 3-1 and finished in third place, while Korea Republic ended their championship in fourth place.

At an award ceremony after the match, KIM Yun Mi (DPR Korea) received both the Most Valuable Player and the Top Scorer Awards with four goals in the championship. KIM Nam Hui (DPR Korea) was selected as the best defender and KIM Myong Sun (DPR Korea) was named as the best goalkeeper of the competition.

Based on the total number of duels and the winners of each duels from match statistics, the duels points for each player and the team were calculated. The “au Stats” awards, which were given to the player and the team with the highest duel points in the championship, were announced. Tanaka Mina received the individual award, while Korea Republic won the team category.

Coaches' and Players' Comments

TAKAKURA Asako, Coach of Nadeshiko Japan (Japan Women’s National Team)
I would like to congratulate the players and the staff of DPR Korea for winning the championship. In a match where we needed a win to grab the title, we tried to keep a clean sheet and looked for ways to score goals. From that point of view, I must say that it was a difficult match. In the first half, there were times when we were forced to pass the ball around without really threatening the opponents, but compared to the previous two matches, we managed to move the ball more effectively and attacked with better rhythm. However, we failed to penetrate through their defence and take it up to the areas where we could threaten the opponents’ goal. We were determined to win the title, and I saw frustration in the eyes of our players after the game. We will be reminded about this disappointment and try to capitalise on this experience, while we prepare for the Asian Cup next April and continue our efforts to become the best team in Asia.

Even prior to the game, we thought that it was going to be a tough match. Our forward players ran out of stamina towards the end, and I felt that we could have attacked the same side more often rather than moving the ball from one side to another as we did in today’s game. I thought that we would have a hard time keeping possession, but we managed to hold on to the ball longer than we expected. We will participate in the Asian Cup next April and I believe that each team will be different, just like Korea Republic being a completely different team with JI So-yun in the squad. We will take this experience positively and work on the issues that we found during the championship, and aim for the summit in the Asian Cup.

We managed to display our aggressive style in attacks, but showed weaknesses in the battles for the ball. In particular, when we conceded the second goal, I approached the opponent in possession with side midfielder Haji and felt that we could steal the ball, but instead allowed her to get past us. I must say that we did not anticipate well enough to make physical contact and then take the ball away from her. In defence, we were able to push up the backline, but also felt that we did not do enough in the game and found many areas that we need to improve. Prior to the Asian Cup, we have to make significant improvements in the team as well. I expect that there will be plenty of players that have the ability to attack with pace, and I must work on how to react and defend against those players.

I believe that the players of DPR Korea have the ability to put pressure on us from the front line for the entire 90 minutes. To get away from that pressing defence, I felt the need to use direct and quick passes to create good ball movement and put the opponents on the back foot. We were able the take the ball up to midfield, but were unable to create chances in the last third of the pitch. That is one area that we need to work on. In addition, we spent long time in defending and, when we reclaimed possession, we found the player to send a pass, but could not find the subsequent player to take the ball up the pitch. We will be in a tough group in the Asian Cup. We were beaten by Australia in the last encounter and are looking to avenge for that loss. We won against Korea Republic this time, but I know that there were players who were not called up to the team for this championship. We cannot be overconfident and must keep up our hard work to strengthen the team further by next April.

KIM KWANG MIN, Coach (DPR Korea)
I’m very pleased that we won the game. Japan have an excellent team with players having high individual skills. We faced them with strong mentality and tried to take advantage of our good teamwork, while we capitalised on our speed to break through their defence. However, our players are still very young and inexperienced, and struggled to perform as I expected. During halftime, I explained to my players what went wrong in the first half. By making them understand the areas that needed to be fixed, my players performed much better as a united team after the break. We displayed our strength in teamwork and mental toughness throughout the second half, and I must praise my players for their excellent performance today. As a result, we were able to grab a 2-0 comprehensive win over Japan. I am also glad that we won three straight championships as well.


EAFF E-1 Football Championship 2017 Final Japan
Fri. 8 December 3-2 1st Match vs Korea Rep.
Chiba / Soga Sports Park
Sat. 9 December AM/PM Training *closed‐door
Sun. 10 December AM/PM Training *closed‐door
Mon. 11 December 1-0 2nd Match vs China PR
Chiba / Soga Sports Park
Tue. 12 December AM/PM Training *closed‐door
Wed. 13 December AM/PM Training *closed‐door
Thu. 14 December AM/PM Training *closed‐door
Fri. 15 December 0-2 3rd Match vs DPR Korea
Chiba / Soga Sports Park

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

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EAFF E-1 Football Championship 2017 Final Japan

8 December 2017 - 16 December 2017
Women: Chiba / Soga Sports Park
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