【Match Report】SAMURAI BLUE lose to Colombia despite Mitoma’s opener
29 March 2023
On Tuesday 28 March, the SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) faced the Colombia National Team in the KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2023 at Yodoko Sakura Stadium in Osaka. Despite taking an early lead with the opener of MITOMA Kaoru (Brighton & Hove Albion FCC), Japan conceded two goals to lose the match 1-2.
Following their 1-1 draw against Uruguay on Friday 24, the team made four changes to their starting line-up, as NISHIMURA Takuma (Yokohama F. Marinos), who scored the equaliser as a late substitute, was given the start in midfield, while ITO Junya (Stade de Reims) started in the right flank. BANGNAGANDE Kashif (FC Tokyo) made his first senior cap as the starting left fullback, while MACHINO Shuto (Shonan Bellmare) was given his first start since the KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2022 in September.
ITO Hiroki (VfB Stuttgart), who played as the left fullback against Uruguay, was paired with ITAKURA Kou (Borussia MG) in the centre back position, and KAMADA Daichi (Eintracht Frankfurt), who played in the number 10 role, was shifted back to anchor the midfield with MORITA Hidemasa (Sporting CP).
Japan took an early goal when the cross delivered by Morita was met by Mitoma, who struck a towering header that found the left corner of the goal.
Seeking to extend the lead, the home side continued to press forward, as they mixed in long balls into their build-up plays while anticipating for their chances to penetrate the right side, where Ito made continuous runs into the open space. However, Colombia fought back with their tenacious pressure to win the ball and initiate counterattacks led by Deiver MACHADO (RC Lens) on the left side.
The equaliser was scored in the 33rd minute when Machado made a cutback from the left side, setting up Jhon Jader DURAN (Aston Villa), who fired a left-footed shot into the right side of the goal and beyond the reach of Japanese goalkeeper SCHMIDT Daniel (Sint-Truidense VV).
Looking to get ahead again, Japan created a big scoring opportunity in the 40th minute. A sharp delivery from Ito up the right flank found its way into the centre where Nishimura made a running effort to connect with the ball. It was reminiscent of the goal scored against Uruguay, but this time the shot went just wide of the post.
Japan started the second half with ENDO Wataru (VfB Stuttgart) and UEDA Ayase (Cercle Brugge KSV) replacing Kamada and Machino, before sending DOAN Ritsu (SC Freiburg) off the bench in the 54th minute. In the 58th minute, Ito forced a turnover in the midfield and connected with Ueda, who passed the ball to setup the shot of Doan, but the midfielder’s attempt was blocked by the opposing goalkeeper.
Colombia, who missed out on the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ and have been working under a new regime since June last year, displayed excellent cohesiveness and speed to pose a threat to the Japanese goal.
In the 59th minute, Japan sent on SEKO Ayumu (Grasshopper CZ) for Bangnagande, who picked up an injury after colliding with an opponent, and KUBO Takefusa (Real Sociedad) for Nishimura, and shifted Seko to centre back and Ito to left back.
But soon after, Japan allowed Colombia to score again. In the 61st minute, Jhon ARIAS (Fluminense FC) carried the ball into the penalty area and struck a shot from close range, which was blocked by Schmidt. However, Rafael Santos BORRE (Eintracht Frankfurt) reacted to the deflection up the middle and fired a bicycle kick that found the back of the net.
In efforts to level the score, Japan created back-to-back opportunities after the 65th minute mark, when Ueda met Morita's left cross and soon afterwards Ito's left corner kick with a towering header, but both attempts were blocked by the opposition goalkeeper.
Japan sent ASANO Takuma (VfL Bochum) off the bench in place of Morita in the 78th minute, and shifted Kubo into the number 10 role, which soon led to the shot taken by Kubo and the header struck by Ito, who met the cross of SUGAWARA Yukinari (AZ Alkmaar), but fell short from finding the equaliser, as the match ended with a final score of 1-2.
SAMURAI BLUE vs Colombia National Team
Date: Tuesday 28 March 2023, 19:20 (subject to change)
Venue: Yodoko Sakura Stadium, Osaka
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