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U-23 Japan National Team’s consistency paved the way to the Olympic Games

27 January 2016

U-23 Japan National Team’s consistency paved the way to the Olympic Games

Young "samurai" has opened the door to the world.

U-23 Japan National Team had the semi-final of the AFC U-23 Championship Qatar 2016 (Rio de Janeiro Olympics Asian Qualifiers Final Round) against U-23 Iraq National Team at 4:30 p.m. (10:30 p.m. Japan time), 26 January.

The winner of this match would qualify for the Olympic Games whereas the loser had to go to the third place match; both team had to face such intense pressure. Even in that situation, Japan kept calm from the start. Japan's final line players consistently blocked all of Iraq's long distance passes. Japan worked even better than Iraq in keeping possession after blocked balls due to their effort to keep themselves in compact form.

The match turned in the 26th minute. SUZUKI Musashi broke through the left wing and made a cross to the centre. KUBO Yuya slid his right foot first to push the ball; it was a brilliant opener, breaking Iraq’s defence completely. 

After the first goal, Japan kept attacking quickly by moving the ball vertically to find spaces behind defence. However, Japan conceded a goal in the 43rd minute; Japan allowed Iraq to make consecutive shots from their corner-kick. Japan's goalkeeper KUSHIBIKI Masatoshi worked hard to save the goal, but Iraq ended up pushing the ball successfully in to the Japan’s goal. 

Japan had another challenging time right after the beginning of the 2nd half. In the 47th minute, Iraq's strong middle-shot nearly found the net, but Kushibiki showed a very fine save. While defending Iraq's offence that kept trying to find chances from corner-kicks or free-kicks, Japan made a good combination offence with quick vertical attacks and careful passing plays, to go closer to Iraq's goal. 

In the 68th minute, Japan substituted Suzuki for ONAIWU Ado. In the 78th minute, Kubo left the pitch and ASANO Takuma joined instead. Japan accelerated its offence strengths even more. 

The impressive story came about just before the end of the 2nd half; in the 93rd minute of the additional time, HARAKAWA Riki trapped the blocked ball by the opponent’s goalkeeper, and screwed it with his left foot. The ball sneaked out of the goalmouth scramble and kept going into the right side of Iraq’s goal. There wasn’t any more time, the game didn’t move any more.

U-23 Japan National Team, coached by TEGURAMORI Makoto, beat Iraq, and they have qualified for the Olympic Games for 6 consecutive times. The team’s consistent sense of unity as a team and their fighting spirit put extra value on Teguramori’s coaching approaches which were: flexibility and making quick decisions. 

Their aim is to be the top of Asia. The team will keep working for the final match of this competition which will kick off on 30 January. 

Match details

Coach and Players' Comments

TEGURAMORI Makoto, Coach
To be honest, we wanted the 2nd goal within the 1st half, but they could keep playing calmly; this is our shared value especially in the time of not scoring. I found the players becoming stronger in keeping patience in the 2nd half. In this opportunity, I wanted the 23 players to be mature players. They understand that there is no guarantee for them just to stay in this squad team and that it is actually good for them to have good rivals in their generation. They seem to understand the meaning of them even deeply. After the match, our Assistant Coach AKIBA Tadahiro started crying and that made me emotional and I was nearly crying, too. Well, I will keep my tears until our victory in the final. 

DF #13  NARA Tatsuki (Kawasaki Frontale)
I felt a huge sense of responsibility and today I went on to the pitch bearing many people’s passion and thoughts. I think I could respond to them by the result that we won today. We could play in a compact formation and we could reach where the ball was about to go. I tried to contribute to the team by minimising any risks, making other teammates move well. Before kickoff, I was making an image of the victory, but what really happened was more than I expected and I was very happy. It was my first time in my life that I shed tears by winning; this was something I had never experienced before.

MF #7  HARAKAWA Riki (Kawasaki Frontale)
Even though I haven't been playing in my team, the Coach Teguramori kept inviting me to the squad. I wanted to work well for him so I am happy that I could contribute to the team today. At the moment that I scored, since I could see that there was a form of pressure coming from the right wing, I kept the ball at the left side and made a shot aiming at the net. Anyway I couldn't see if it was successful. What is important for us is to be top here and move on to the Olympic Games. I will keep working hard for the next match.

FW #11  KUBO Yuya (Berner Sport Club Young Boys/Switzerland)
At the moment of the first goal, I believed that the ball would come to me and I could run into the front of the goal well, so what I did was to just apply a final touch. As a starting forward player, I wanted to score in the 1st half and I also wanted to get the 2nd goal. What makes me happy most is that we have qualified for the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games, it is such a nice feeling. However, as our Coach Teguramori says, our aim is to be the champion of this competition, so we want to win in the final match. To be top and to be 2nd is very different. 

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 2-1 Knock-out stage  Semi-Finals vs U-23 Iraq
(@Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium)
Wed. 27 January AM Training
Thu. 28 January PM Training
Sat. 30 January 17:45 Knock-out stage  Final vs U-23 Korea Republic
(@Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium)

*Local Time

AFC U-23 Championship Qatar 2016 (Rio de Janeiro Olympics Asian Qualifiers Final)

Sat. 30 January - 23:45 (Japan Time)
Qatar/Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium
U-23 Japan National Team vs U-23 Korea Republic National Team
More information

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