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U-21 Japan National Team draws with UAE to finish in second place at Dubai Cup U-23 on UAE Tour (11/11-21)

21 November 2018

U-21 Japan National Team draws with UAE to finish in second place at Dubai Cup U-23 on UAE Tour (11/11-21)

The U-21 Japan National Team faced the U-21 UAE National Team at UAE FA Stadium in their third game of the Dubai Cup U-23 on Tuesday 20 November. Although Japan conceded the opening goal to face a difficult match, with the help of UEDA Ayase’s equaliser in the 71st minute, they drew the match 1-1 to finish the Cup as the runners-up.

Entering their third match against UAE, Japan replaced nine players from the starting line-up that featured in their second match against Kuwait. KOJIMA Ryosuke played in goal with OMINAMI Takuma, TATSUTA Yugo, and ITAKURA Kou in the defence line. MATSUMOTO Taishi and NAKAYAMA Yuta were positioned as the defensive midfielders, while NAGANUMA Yoichi and SUGIOKA Daiki were placed in the sides. MIYOSHI Koji and IWASAKI Yuto played just beneath the lone striker OGAWA Koki.

It was UAE who took the initiative from the beginning of the match. Japan struggled to apply effective pressure from their front line, allowing the opponents to pick up their rhythm. As time progressed, UAE gradually pushed their ways into the Japanese territory. However, the Japanese defenders performed patiently to prevent the opponents from scoring the goal. In the 32nd minute, Kojima displayed a superb save to keep the clean sheet intact as Japan managed to enter halftime with a score of 0-0.

Just after the second half started, in the 47th minute, Ominami, who responded to an opponent dribbling into the penalty area, committed a foul, giving away a penalty kick to UAE. The home side calmly converted this spot kick to take the lead.

In efforts to score a goal, Japan sent more players up front to add layers to their attack. ITO Tatsuya and UEDA Ayase, who came off the bench at the start of the second half, initiated attacks up front while the flank players got themselves more involved to their attacks. Their efforts finally materialised in the 71st minute, when Sugioka responded to a pass delivered by Ito Tatsuya, and sent a cross towards the centre. It was Ueda who converted a left-footed shot at the near side to equalise the match, as he later reflected, “It was a very difficult shot for me.”

However, Japan’s rally stopped there. Although the team came close to scoring further goals numerous times towards the end of the match, they came short from finding the back of the net. The match ended with a score of 1-1, as Japan settled for second-place in the tournament.

Acting Coach YOKOUCHI Akinobu reflected on the match, “‘Some of our good plays and the bad plays were on display, which made us realise there are more tasks to work on. However, the team did well considering that we’ve added many new players and some of the U-19 players. It was a meaningful tournament for us.” The U-21 Japan National Team finished in second place out of four teams in the Dubai Cup U-23, which was their final activity of this year. Uzbekistan won the Cup, and Ueda Ayase was named as the top scorer as well as the most valuable player.

Coach and Players' Comments

YOKOUCHI Akinobu, Acting Coach
We entered the match with the strong intention to win the match, so this 1-1 draw is a very disappointing result for us. In this crucial third match of the tournament, we played too passively and allowed our opponents to play freely in the first half. If we could have started the match in way we played in the second half, I feel like we could have won the match. We saw many positives and negatives through this tour, but the fact that we managed to fight through along with the U-19 players has given us great confidence moving forward.

GK #1 KOJIMA Ryosuke (Waseda University)
I was able to contribute to win the title at my university’s league campaign, so I wanted to use that confidence in this tournament. I feel like I was able to put up a good performance in terms of defence, but I need to heighten the quality of my plays in order to help out the offence a lot more. I will focus on heightening my individual strengths so that I can contribute to the team more.

MF #5 SUGIOKA Daiki (Shonan Bellmare)
We had to play the first half the way we played in the second half. I have attempted to deliver many crosses from our first match, so it was about time I connected with someone. I focused on delivering a smooth cross, rather than a strong delivery. I feel like I managed to make plenty of runs and contributed to our defence. In offence, although I delivered many crosses, I still felt like I need to heighten the quality of my plays at the final third.

FW #11 UEDA Ayase (Hosei University)
I am glad I was able to equalise the match, but I was sent onto the pitch to win the match for the team, so in that sense, I am not satisfied at all. During this tournament, I was able to showcase my individual strengths. I managed to score three goals directly off a delivery, and that’s something I have been working on, so that give me great confidence moving forward. However, as a forward, we score goals to help the team win. I should have converted that header and scored another goal. Until I am capable of scoring those crucial goals, I still have long ways to go.


Dubai Cup U-23
Wed. 14 November 2-2 1st Match vs U-21 Uzbekistan National Team (UAE FA Stadium)
Thu. 15 November TBC Training
Fri. 16 November TBC Training
Sat. 17 November 5-0 2nd Match vs U-23 Kuwait National Team (Al Hamriya Stadium)
Sun. 18 November TBC Training
Mon. 19 November TBC Training
Tue. 20 November 1-1 3rd Match vs U-23 UAE National Team (Al Shabab Stadium)

*Local Time
*The schedule is subject to change due to the team condition, the weather, etc.
*Some of the players will join the training session late on Sun. 11

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