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HOME > National Teams > NEWS > U-23 Japan National Team edged Iran after additional period


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U-23 Japan National Team edged Iran after additional period

23 January 2016

U-23 Japan National Team edged Iran after additional period

Young Samurais overcame the immense pressure to take the next step.

Kicked off at 4:30 p.m. (10:30 p.m. Japan Time), U-23 Japan National Team took on Iran at the semi-final of the AFC U-23 Championship Qatar 2016 (Rio de Janeiro Olympics Asian Qualifiers Final Round).

Despite the differently tensed atmosphere from that of the group stage, Japan composedly controlled the match. In the first half, they were not able to create many big opportunities to score, while Iran threatened Japan’s goal a few times. Still the match was certainly dominated by Japan. As had been the case in the last three matches, it was well within Japan’s expectation that there would be some tough stretches. Making sure to manage risks, they tried to utilise free-kicks and corner-kicks to score the opener.

The see-saw match continued in the second half. In the 56th minute, Iran’s header hit the cross bar of Japan’s goal, but the Japanese players did not panic. They kept communicating with each other and maintained the concentration, as they had all the opposing players in check with collectively taking care of every attacking point of Iran’s offence. In the 82nd minute, with the score still being 0-0, Japan’s boss TEGURAMORI Makoto sent ASANO Takuma in place for KUBO Yuya. Then he also replaced YAJIMA Shinya with TOYOKAWA Yuta to reactivate their offence. 

In the additional period, Japan’s stamina started overwhelming Iran. Contrary to the opponents whose legs apparently slowed down, Japan geared up even higher. Finally, the much-awaited goal was scored in the 96th minute of the extra period’s first half. Right full-back MUROYA Sei went up to join the attack and fed a cross with his left foot, which was met by Toyokawa who rushed in unchecked. Toyokawa’s beautiful header found the back of the net. 

Iran still had another moment to scare Japan in the additional time of the half. But the close-range shot was saved by the goalkeeper KUSHIBIKI Masatoshi who made the remarkable judgement. The one-goal lead did not stop Japan from playing aggressively in the second half. The player who performed superbly then was NAKAJIMA Shoya. He tallied a couple of additional goals with his right foot in the 109th minute and 110th to seal the deal for Japan. 

Japan used up their substitution when ENDO Wataru got subbed in for OHSHIMA Ryota in the 113th minute. Finally they clinched the spot in the semi-final with the 3-0 victory. 

Match details

Another practice session is scheduled at 10:30 a.m. (4:30 p.m. Japan Time). 

Players’ Comments

GK #1  KUSHIBIKI Masatoshi (Kashima Antlers)
Speaking of the save I made in the first half of the extra period, it was a big moment right after we scored a goal. We couldn’t afford to give away our momentum. The fact that we held on to it during that stretch led to the two goals by Nakajima in the second half. It would have been better if we had finished the match in 90 minutes. But I think this win now greatly pushes us forward including the goal by the substitute Toyokawa.

DF #5  UEDA Naomichi (Kashima Antlers)
What makes me happy more than anything is that I can keep playing more with this team after today’s win. I felt the pressure, but I started trying to enjoy it down the stretch. I made myself realise that it’s a make-or-break situation, and I kept communicating with IWANAMI for us two to defend our goal. Next, the ticket to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics will be at stake. It won’t mean anything unless we win the semi-final. We will make sure to get prepared.

MF #10  NAKAJIMA Shoya (F.C. Tokyo)
In the first and second halves of the regulation, I couldn’t play well. It was like I was doing nothing out there. In the extra period, I told myself to help my team in any way possible. Speaking of the first goal, until that moment I wasn’t able to get the ball around there. I was thinking that once I got it at that spot, I would shoot it right away. That helped me to shoot it without any hesitation and scored it. As for the second goal, my mind was already made up to shoot it once I got the ball. The two goals allowed me to regain my senses, and they are the goals that will help me for the rest of the way. We have to look back and analyse why we couldn’t finish it in 90 minutes, but at the same time, being able to fight through 120 minutes gives us extra confidence. With all that, we will tackle next one. 

MF #14  TOYOKAWA Yuta (Fagiano Okayama)
When I got out there, the opponents already seemed tired. But more than that my teammates were working really hard. So that made me want to help them by all means. I was nervous because it’s a knockout stage, and I felt a kind of pressure that I had never felt. When I scored, Muroya gave me a great cross ball. I myself could outsmart my opponent and rush into the right place.

JFA-TV (Japanese version only)


AFC U-23 Championship Qatar 2016
Wed. 13 January 1-0 Group Stage 1st Match vs U-23 DPR Korea
(@Grand Hamad Stadium)
Thu. 14 January AM Training
Fri. 15 January PM Training
Sat. 16 January 4-0 Group Stage 2nd Match vs U-23 Thailand
(@Grand Hamad Stadium)
Sun. 17 January AM Training
Mon. 18 January 17:45 Official training (@Suhaim Bin Hamad Stadium)
Tue. 19 January 2-1 Group Stage 3rd Match vs U-23 Saudi Arabia
(@Suhaim Bin Hamad Stadium)
Wed. 20 January AM Training
Thu. 21 January TBC Official training (@tbd)
Fri. 22 January 3-0
Knock-out stage  Quarter-Finals vs U-23 Iran
(@Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium)
Sat. 23 January AM Training
Sun. 24 January PM Training
Mon. 25 January PM Training
Tue. 26 January 16:30
Knock-out stage  Semi-Finals
(@Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium)
Wed. 27 January AM Training
Thu. 28 January PM Training
Fri. 29 January 17:45 Knock-out stage  3rd/4th-Place Playoff
(@Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium)
Sat. 30 January 17:45 Knock-out stage  Final
(@Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium)

*Local Time

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