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U-18 Japan National Team drops close match against Paraguay to finish as runners-up at SBS Cup International Youth Soccer

20 August 2018

U-18 Japan National Team drops close match against Paraguay to finish as runners-up at SBS Cup International Youth Soccer

2018 SBS Cup International Youth Soccer
3rd Match vs U-18 Paraguay National Team

Sun. 19 August 2018 Kick-off time 17:30 Match duration 80mins (40mins x2)
Kusanagi Stadium, Kusanagi City, Shizuoka

U-18 Japan National Team 1-2 (0-0, 1-2) U-18 Paraguay National Team

53' goal against (U-18 Paraguay National Team)
55' MIYASHIRO Taisei (U-18 Japan National Team)
73' goal against (U-18 Paraguay National Team)

Starting Line-up
GK: KOKUBO Leobrian
DF: SUGAWARA Yukinari, ISHIO Ryoga, MIKUNI Kenedeiebusu, OKI Kaito
MF: KOZUKI Soichiro, IGAWA Sora, FUKUOKA Shimpei, KIDA Hinata

GK: AIZAWA Peterkwame
FW: ISHII Kaisei

HT IGAWA Sora → AJIMA Itsuki
80+3' OKI Kaito → KISHIMOTO Shunsaku

Match Report

On Sunday 19 August, the final day of the SBS Cup International Youth Soccer took place, as the U-18 Japan National Team faced the U-18 Paraguay National Team with the tournament title at stake. After a heated battle, Japan lost the match 1-2, falling short from winning their first title in five years.

The U-18 Paraguay National Team featured players who played at the CONMEBOL U-17 Football Championship 2017, where the team finished in second place, and also at the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017. Despite losing their first match against the U-18 Shizuoka Youth in penalty kicks, they bounced back by earning a 3-0 victory against the U-18 Australia National Team. With Shizuoka Youth losing to Australia in penalty kicks earlier this day, both teams were in position to take the title with a win at this match.

The match kicked off under a rather cool climate which may have helped attracting over 4,000 people, mainly local students ranging from primary school to high school. The two teams came out with high intensity from the start of the match. In the sixth minute, midfielder FUKUOKA Shimpei delivered an excellent cross to connect with midfielder KOZUKI Soichiro’s header, but the shot went just off the target. The Paraguayan side on the other hand, displayed aggressive defence while making quick turns when receiving the ball to initiate fast breaks in their offence. Japan struggled to win the ball in the early minutes, but gradually made their adjustments. In offence, Japan utilised the width of the field effectively, while keeping their passes simple to possess the ball. Their forwards made great runs to exploit the open space to create opportunities as well.

In the 16th minute, Japan displayed great combinations to break through the right flank before SAITO Koki made a great turn to release the ball to the overlapping SUGAWARA Yukinari who delivered a cross towards the centre. Forward MIYASHIRO Taisei was there to connect with this cross, but his timing was slightly off, as the ball sailed off target. The 33rd minute saw Saito break through the flank before making a cut back to Miyashiro, but his attempt came short from finding the back of the net. In the 35th minute, Fukuoka launched a powerful shot off a loose ball at the centre, but his effort was denied by the opposing goalkeeper. Japan showed great composure to deny the opponents while creating many opportunities in the first half but entered halftime scoreless.

The second half saw more action take place than the first half. In the 45th minute, Paraguay made an attempt at the Japanese goal from a corner kick, but the final shot went over the crossbar. Japan returned the favour with Miyashiro’s direct shot off the cross delivered by Sugawara, but his shot also failed to capture the goal. Both teams struggled to convert their opportunities, but it was Paraguay who broke the deadlock.

In the 53rd minute, Japan failed to clear the ball off a corner kick, allowing Paraguay to collect the loose ball. A through ball was delivered to the left side, creating a one-on-one situation, which the Paraguayan player calmly converted to take the lead. This goal may have awakened the Japanese side, as they showcased great ball movements in the 55th minute, allowing Sugawara to deliver the final pass to Miyashiro who struck a superb shot with the outside of his foot, piercing the net to level the match.

Japan came close to scoring the go-ahead goal in the 60th minute, as they connected the ball effectively in the left flank before KIDA Hinata delivered a perfectly timed though ball to the centre. Kozuki made the run to take a shot, but his effort was saved by a superb save made by the opposing goalkeeper. While Japan struggled to take the lead, the South American side converted their opportunity in the late minutes of the match, as they initiated a counter attack after intersepting a pass from Japan. The fast break was followed by a through ball delivered to the centre, creating a one-on-one situation once again, as the Paraguayan player converted the opportunity by lobbing the ball over the head of the goalkeeper. With their back against the wall, Japan made efforts to equalise the match as they utilised their power play, but the match ended with a final score of 1-2. Despite displaying a great performance, Japan lost to Paraguay who showed their effectiveness at critical moments.

As a result, Japan finished the tournament as the runners-up, coming short from clinching their first tournament title in five years. The U-18 Japan National Team has concluded their activities for this year, but the players will now strive to take part in the AFC U-19 Championship Indonesia 2018 scheduled to be held this October. The players will now go back to their club teams and try to make their case to be called up to the U-19 Japan National Team for the coming September and October.

Coach and Players' Comments

KAGEYAMA Masanaga, Coach (U-18 Japan National Team)
The SBS Cup International Youth Soccer provides us with a great opportunity to face foreign powerhouses, as well as the mighty Shizuoka Youth in Japan. We are grateful to be given the chance to participate in this tournament as the U-18 Japan National Team. During our meeting I told my players that we must strive for two goals. The first goal is to add layers to the overall national team. The second goal is for the individuals to be named in the U-19 Japan National Team ahead of this October’s AFC U-19 Championship Indonesia 2018, and beyond, as they need to strive to become a member of the U-21 category and the top team of the national team. This year’s activities for the U-18 Japan National Team will conclude after this tournament, so we have set our goals to win the title and to showcase our full potential at this tournament.

In our first two matches, we rotated our line-ups to give opportunities for all the players and earned five points to setup the final showdown against Paraguay. The Paraguayan players showcased intense tenacity in their attacks, which is an aspect our team had been lacking, so it gave us a great learning experience. Our players managed to put up a good fight against our opponents and moved the ball well. They showed great strengths as well as mobility to create numerous goal scoring opportunities. However, our opponents had the upper hand in terms of converting their chances, as a result we lost the match 1-2.

The players of this age category have been coached by Coach MORIYAMA Yoshiro (coach of the U-16 Japan National Team) and has lots of international experience, including last year’s FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017. They are not afraid of playing against foreign teams and have the toughness to showcase their techniques at the world stage. In a sense, these players were nurtured by the Japanese football community as a whole, and for these players to strive for higher levels in the world, we must win matches like today. It made me think that I must also become a better coach to give these players a chance to win the match.

We will call up some of these players into the U-19 Japan National Team to conduct an overseas tour in September, followed by the AFC U-19 Championship Indonesia 2018 in October. However, with many players in the U-19 category already excelling at the J. Leagues, tough challenges will lie ahead of these players. But we hope to win through the competitions in Asia with these players we have nurtured as a nation to advance to the FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland 2019. Lastly, I’d like to thank the tournament host and sponsors, Shizuoka Pref. Football Association, Shizuoka Shimbun, Shizuoka Broadcasting System, and all other staffs involved to conduct this wonderful tournament.

DF #2 MIKUNI Kenedeiebusu (Aomori Yamada High School)
I am glad to get called up to the team following the 24th Lisbon International U18 Tournament. However, it was unfortunate that I couldn’t contribute to the team as much due to injury. Although I missed a large portion of our team’s trainings, I managed to get myself back in form to start the final match, so I was happy for that. But I was involved in the scene where we conceded the goal, and ultimately los the match, so overall it was a regretful match for me. In the first goal we conceded, I had to stay on my marksman until the ball went out of bound, while in the second goal, I had to be more patient and hold my position. The fact I played in the final match gave me great inspiration, and once I go back to my club, I hope to utilise this experience to improve myself, so that I can get called up to the national team again.

DF #7 SUGAWARA Yukinari (Nagoya Grampus U18)
Following my call up to the U-19 Japan National Team squad in the Russia tour, I am glad to be called up to the national team again. I was given the opportunity to experience the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia in first hand and it really inspired me to want to get called up to the top team. I was seeing less playing time at my club team, so I entered this tour with a strong intention. We played a very intense match today, where both teams were fighting with all they’ve got to win the title. Although we managed to create many goal scoring opportunities, we lacked quality in the final third, and conversely gave up the opening goal from our own mistake. We did equalise the math at one point, but once again conceded from an error. It made us realise that at this level of competition, a small mistake can cost the match, and that we must be more critical in the given opportunities to win matches. Once I return to my club, I will give everything I’ve got to win the starting position, so that I can make a case for myself to be called up to the national team again.

MF #10 FUKUOKA Shimpei (Kyoto Sanga F.C. U-18)
I was happy to be named in this squad for the SBS Cup International Youth Soccer and I entered this tour with a strong intention to win the title. I was looking forward for this tournament, as I kept in mind that this could also serve as a try-out session for the U-19 Japan National Team ahead of their participation at the AFC U-19 Championship Indonesia 2018. In our match today, we managed to cope with our opponents in fifty-fifty balls and created numbers of goal scoring opportunities. However, the fact we couldn’t convert those chances gave us something to work on. In the second half, we were caught off guard and conceded a goal from a set-play, but managed to score back right afterwards, which gave us great confidence. At a personal level, I managed to receive the ball in between players to create a good rhythm for our offence, but made too many mistakes, so I need to improve in that aspect. I need to be more critical in my opportunities to take shots, so I will work hard to improve myself once I return to my club in Japan. I am positive that I can get myself involved in the next age category of the national team if I can earn a starting job at the J. League level. So, I will give my very best every day to earn the starting position at my club.

FW #11 SAITO Koki (Yokohama FC Youth)
Continuing on my participation at the 24th Lisbon International U18 Tournament, I am happy to be called up to the U-18 Japan National Team again. After we failed to perform well at the tournament deciding match in Portugal, I entered this tournament with a high motivation. I was even more pumped up in our final match, because I missed the first two matches due to injury I sustained during our training. As Coach Kageyama Masanaga told me, I anticipated on exploiting the space behind the defenders and I feel like I managed to showcase my capabilities in this match. However, as a team, we couldn’t convert our opportunities while we conceded goals from our own mistakes. It made us really realise that small mistakes can cost us the entire match. Even though we created many chances in offence, I felt that we lacked quality in our final passes and need more boldness in our attacks in front of the goal. It made me want to become a better and stronger forward. Once I return to my club, I will stay eager to seek for opportunities to play in our matches while showcasing my strong points. And when I am on the pitch I will strive to score as many goals as possible so that I can get called up to the national team again.


2018 SBS Cup International Youth Soccer
Thu. 16 August 1-0 1st Match vs U-18 Australia National Team
(Fujieda-sogo Stadium)
Fri. 17 August 0-0
2nd Match vs U-18 Shizuoka Youth
(Ashitaka Athletic Park Stadium)
Sat. 18 August AM Training
Sun. 19 August 1-2 3rd Match vs U-18 Paraguay National Team
(Kusanagi Stadium)

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

Tournament Dates: Thu. 16 - Sun. 19 August 2018
Tournament Venue: Fujieda-sogo Stadium/ Ashitaka Athletic Park Stadium/ Kusanagi Stadium, Shizuoka
Tournament Information

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