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Kunimi and Shoshi among teams advancing to the second round - 101st All Japan High School Soccer Tournament

30 December 2022

Kunimi and Shoshi among teams advancing to the second round - 101st All Japan High School Soccer Tournament

The first round of the 101st All Japan High School Soccer Tournament took place at various locations on Thursday 29 December.

Featured Match 1

Shoshi High School 3-0 (1‐0, 2-0) Tokushima Municipal High School

The match between Shoshi High School (Fukushima) and Tokushima Municipal High School (Tokushima) held at NHK Spring Mitsuzawa Football Stadium progressed at the pace of Shoshi, who displayed bold attacks from both sides of the field. The opening goal came in the 11th minute, when AJIRO Hiyu redirected the pass from YOSHIMITSU Jin to setup the shot of SUZUKI Kotaro. Although this shot was initially blocked by the goalkeeper, Ajiro converted the deflection to put Shoshi ahead.

In the 23rd minute, Tokushima Municipal launched a counterattack, in which HAYASHI Shuta attempted to score a goal after receiving a feed from HANAFUSA Reon, but his shot missed the mark. Tokushima Municipal had similar opportunities throughout the match but couldn’t find ways to send the ball into the net, as coach KAWANO Hiroyuki later reflected, “Although we were able to win the ball in the attacking third, we lacked precision to capitalise on them.”

As the match progressed in Shoshi’s pace, the second goal came in the 70th minute, when Ajiro converted the deflection of a header struck by YAMAMOTO Kanata. Ajiro then assisted the goal of OKANO Rao to seal the match, as Shoshi advanced to the second round with a 3-0 victory.

Featured Match 2

Hokkai High School 1-1 (0-1, 1-0, PK5-6) Kunimi High School

The second match between Hokkai High School (Hokkaido) and Kunimi High School (Nagasaki) was a closely contested affair, with both sides showing some stiffness in their movements due to the tension of playing their first match. The deadlock was broken by Kunimi in the 37th minute when KAWAZOE Sora delivered a long feed to the right side, where YUKI Ibuki received the ball before carrying the ball towards the centre, as coach KIFUJI Kenta later reflected, “Our opponents were keeping their defence very compact, so we tried to penetrate the flanks to create chances.” The final pass was delivered to TOSHINE Yuri, who converted the opportunity to put Kunimi in the lead, as the striker commented, “With this being our first national competition, we all looked stiff, so I felt it was my responsibility to lead the offence.”

Kunimi came close to doubling their lead in the 55th minute, when KITAMURA Kazuma followed up on a loose ball, but couldn’t fully capitalise on their opportunities, as they started to make mistakes in the second half. Hokkai, on the other hand, took advantage of the mistakes made by Kunimi, which led to the 67th minute equaliser scored by SAKURABA Taira, who later revealed, “Our coach warned us during halftime that we will regret it if we keep playing the way we did in the first half, so we encouraged one another to play more ferociously in the second half.”

With the score tied at 1-1, the match entered penalties, where Kunimi’s IMAMURA Taito made two saves that sent the Nagasaki side into the second round.

Coaches and Players' Comments

NAKAMURA Koji, Coach (Shoshi High School)
After years of frustration, including losing in penalty shoot-outs, this year we have been telling ourselves that we will score goals even if we lose, and that we will play aggressive football, so I am glad we were able to score goals today. We intend to maintain this aggressive attitude in the following rounds. We did, however, occasionally let our guard down after taking the lead, so I warned the players that we cannot afford to do that at this level.

ODA Hiroto (Tokushima Municipal High School)
We went into the game with the goal of keeping a clean sheet, but we ended up conceding early on, which completely derailed our game plan. Even so, we still managed to create some chances by winning the ball in high positions in the first half, but we were denied by the opponent's goalkeeper's saves, which also hurt us. Because we were chasing the ball throughout the match, we ran out of gas and ended conceding more goals. This match served as a reminder that we still have lots of work to do.

KIFUJI Kenta, Coach (Kunimi High School)
This was a very difficult match. I wanted our players to keep the ball moving, but they seemed afraid of making mistakes and it took us a while until we found our rhythm. Although we were able to create chances in the second half, we couldn’t finish our plays with a shot. We also made mistakes in our build-ups, which allowed our opponents to gain momentum and eventually score the equaliser. We must try to make the most of this match and improve ourselves ahead of the next match.

SAKURABA Taira (Hokkai High School)
There were a few players, including myself, who were at the match where we lost in the national tournament last year. This match once again reminded us of the difficulty of wining at the national stage. It is extremely frustrating because we worked very hard to prepare for this tournament. It made me wonder if our daily training environment led to the difference. Compared to other regions, the level of competition in Hokkaido is less intense, so I think we need to raise the standard within the team first. We have a lot of faith in our second year players, including the two forwards, so I hope they will avenge us next year.

The 101st All Japan High School Soccer Tournament

Tournament Dates: Wed. 28 December 2022 - Mon. 9 January 2023

Tournament Information

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