【Match Report】Japan Futsal National Team earn ticket to final with a come back win over Uzbekistan! - AFC Futsal Asian Cup™ Kuwait 2022
07 October 2022
On Thursday 6 October, the Japan Futsal National Team, who are searching for their first Asian title in eight years, faced the Uzbekistan Futsal National Team in the AFC Futsal Asian Cup™ Kuwait 2022 semi-finals.
Uzbekistan, who defeated the host nation Kuwait in the quarterfinals, are considered one of the favourites in the tournament, with many returning players from last year's FIFA Futsal World Cup Lithuania 2021™.
For this match, Head Coach KOGURE Kenichiro started PIRES Higor, MIZUTANI Soma, YOSHIKAWA Tomoki, OLIVEIRA Arthur, and HIRATA Neto Antonio Masanori as their starting-five.
Japan showed their aggression from the outset, as Hirata fired a shot that struck the goal post just 18 seconds into the match. With momentum on their side, Japan continued to take control of the game, as Oliveira came close to scoring from a free kick taken in the fifth minute, but his shot was saved by the opposing goalkeeper.
Despite creating number of opportunities, Japan struggled to find the back of the net, as the attempts made by Mizutani and CREPALDI Vinicius were both denied by the woodwork. Uzbekistan, meanwhile, made the most of the few chances they had and managed to score first in the 17th minute.
After conceding the lead, coach Kogure made a system change in order to disrupt the Uzbek defence, which led to the play created in the 18th minute, where UEMURA Atsuya responded to the pass of KANAZAWA Sora, but his effort was also denied by the goalpost, as Japan trailed Uzbekistan 0-1 at halftime.
The long awaited moment came in the 23rd minute, when Oliveira received the ball from a kick-in and struck a sharp shot into the corner of the goal to equalise the match. Kanazawa followed in the 30th minute, when he converted a designed play from a corner kick to put Japan ahead.
Soon after taking the lead, Japan’ goalkeeper Pires had to be taken out of the match with an injury, as KUROMOTO Guilherme stepped onto the pitch for the first time since the team’s first group stage match against Saudi Arabia. For the remaining six minutes, Kuromoto made countless saves to deny the chances created by the Uzbek powerplay, giving Japan a 2-1 victory and the ticket to the final. Despite coming in as a late substitute, Kuromoto was named player of the match for his efforts to keep the one goal lead intact.
In the other semi-final match, Iran defeated Thailand 5-0, setting up the final between Japan and Iran on Saturday 8.
Coach and Players' Comments
KOGURE Kenichiro, Head Coach (Japan Futsal National Team)
We managed to enter the match well, created chances, and showed good combinations, but ended up conceding the opening goal. However, the experience they have gained through this competition has made the players very tough, as they showed plenty of confidence during halftime. As a coach I am truly honoured to be able to spend this tournament with these wonderful athletes.
GK #2 KUROMOTO Guilherme (Tachikawa Athletic FC)
From our match against Korea Republic, I had always been prepared to play, but Pires had been playing extremely well, so I wasn’t expecting to enter the match in that moment. However, I knew how our opponents were going to play, and with the one goal lead, I focused more on defence than the offence. To be honest, I can't explain how I was able to stop that many shots, but I am very happy to have contributed to the team's victory.
FP #7 KANAZAWA Sora (Tachikawa Athletic FC)
We entered the second half a goal behind, but there were many instances like that in this tournament, and I think the fact that the whole team believed in ourselves and that we went into the second half with composure led to this victory. This tournament has taught us that we will have our opportunities as long as we stay patient. We are expecting another tough match at the final, but we hope to make the most of the experience we have gained so far and play with confidence.
FP #13 NAGASAKA Takumi (Bardral Urayasu)
I am aware that my role is different from the other two pivots, and despite conceding the lead, my job remains the same. I was able to keep the ball moving and although I wasn’t able to score, I was able to create some chances for the team. My coach at Urayasu has told me that “Iran is at a totally different level,” so I am looking forward to facing them in the final. Regardless of my playing time, I will prepare myself so that I can enter the final in good shape.
YouTube(AFC):#ACFutsal2022 - Semi-finals | Uzbekistan 1 - 2 Japan
AFC Futsal Asian Cup™ Kuwait 2022
Tournament Date: Tue. 27 September - Sat. 8 October 2022
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