【Match Report】SAMURAI BLUE defeat Korea Republic 3-0 to claim first title under the Moriyasu regime
28 July 2022
On Wednesday 27 July, the SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) played their third and final match of the EAFF E-1 Football Championship 2022 Final Japan against the Korea Republic National Team at Toyota Stadium. With a 3-0 victory over their AFC rival, Japan claimed their first East Asian title in four tournaments, which also represented their first title under the current regime of Head Coach MORIYASU Hajime.
SOMA Yuki (Nagoya Grampus) scored the opener and assisted the team’s second goal scored by SASAKI Sho (Sanfrecce Hiroshima). It was MACHINO Shuto (Shonan Bellmare) who scored the team’s third goal, as Soma and Machino topped the scorer rankings with three goals apiece. Soma was named as the tournament MVP, while TANIGUCHI Shogo (Kawasaki Frontale) was named as the best defender.
After winning over Hong Kong and drawing 0-0 with China PR, Japan entered the third match in second place, trailing two points behind Korea Republic, who were coming off back to back wins in their search for their fourth consecutive E-1 title.
With the tournament title at stake, coach Moriyasu made a drastic change to their starting line-up since their match against China PR three days ago. Six midfielders and attackers who started in their first match against Hong Kong were reinstated into the line-up, while Sasaki and KOIKE Ryuta (Yokohama F. Marinos) were named as the fullbacks in consecutive matches. TANI Kosei (Shonan Bellmare), who thrived as the first string goalkeeper in the Tokyo Olympics, was given his first start with the senior side.
From the start of the match, Japan showed great aggression to take the initiative, as Machino struck a long range shot in the first minute to threaten the opposing goal. The two defensive midfielders, FUJITA Joel Chima (Yokohama F. Marinos) and IWATA Tomoki (Yokohama F. Marinos), made their presence felt by applying aggressive pressure to win the ball in midfield and initiate quick attacks.
In the 19th minute, Soma broke into the box from the left side and struck a shot that nearly caught the corner of the goal, but his attempt deflected off the far post. MIZUNUMA Kota (Yokohama F. Marinos) responded to a loose ball following a corner kick in the 33rd minute, but his shot was saved by the opposing goalkeeper.
Korea Republic, who made eight changes to their starting line-up from their second match against Hong Kong, struggled to evade the pressure applied by Japan. UM Won Sang made an attempt from the right flank in the 26th minute, before NA Sang Ho and KIM Jin Gyu each made efforts at the end of the first half but couldn’t find ways to score against the Japanese defence.
After a scoreless first half, the deadlock was broken in the 49th minute, when Fujita delivered a cross towards the goal, which was headed into the Korean goal by Soma.
With momentum on their side, Japan continued to create chances to threaten the opposing goal. In the 56th minute, Iwata received the ball from NISHIMURA Takuma (Yokohama F. Marinos) and struck a shot that barely missed the far corner of the goal.
Japan’s second goal came in the 64th minute, when Sasaki converted the corner kick delivered by Soma from the left side. For Sasaki, this was his first goal since scoring against Kyrgyz Republic in the second round of the AFC Asian Qualifiers in June of last year.
In the 72nd minute, Japan connected the ball through Fujita and Nishimura before finding Koike who made a run into the box. With Koike squaring the ball back to the centre, Machino calmly converted the ball into the net to extend the lead to three goals.
Korea Republic came close to scoring a goal in the 77th minute, when SONG Min Kyu received the ball inside the Japanese penalty area and struck a sharp shot, but Tani made an excellent save to deny his attempt.
Coach Moriyasu made four changes in the late stages of the match, bringing in WAKIZAKA Yasuto (Kawasaki Frontale) and MORISHIMA Tsukasa (Sanfrecce Hiroshima) to replace Nishimura and MIYAICHI Ryo (Yokohama F. Marinos), who picked up an injury after entering as a second half substitute, in the 78th minute, before introducing HASHIMOTO Kento (Vissel Kobe) and MITSUTA Makoto (Sanfrecce Hiroshima) in the 87th minute.
By limiting their opponents to just four shots throughout the match, Japan walked away with a 3-0 victory and their first EAFF E-1 Football Championship title since 2013.
On this day, China PR defeated Hong Kong 1-0 to claim third place with a record of one win, one draw, and one loss, while Hong Kong finished fourth after losing all three matches in the competition.
Coaches and Players' Comments
MORIYASU Hajime, Head Coach of SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team)
From the moment the players were assembled, they worked hard every day with the goal of winning the title. Despite the fact that many of the players were working together for the first time, the players managed to function well as a team in a short period of time, because they actively communicated with each other, both on and off the pitch. The coaches did their best to prepare the players to get on the same page and the team staff supported the inexperienced players, so it was great to see everyone's efforts paying off in the end. Despite all the pressure, the players never lost their composure, and showed their determination to win the game. They worked hard from start to finish and scored three great goals. The players also worked well as a team, bringing out the best in each other to create good chances upfront. Machino and Nishimura both played a key role to initiate the team’s defence, as they led by working hard from the front line. We did not necessarily change our approach throughout the competition. Although we struggled to score goals in our second match, we showed lots of improvement in defence compared to our first match. From the second to third match, we managed to raise the quality of our combinations in both offence and defence. By winning this tournament, the players were able to showcase their capabilities and raise the value of the J.League and the players who play in the league. There were several players we would like to include in our tour in September and a number of them would be in consideration for the World Cup squad. I would like to make a series of observations to gather information on the players and make the decision. I am very happy with our first title. It is the result of the hard work of the players and staff. But our ultimate goal is to make history at the World Cup in Qatar, so we are not going to get carried away until then.
DF #3 TANIGUCHI Shogo (Kawasaki Frontale)
To be honest, I am relieved. There were a lot of pressure, and I also had put a lot of pressure on myself. I am relieved to have finished with a win. We really wanted to earn the title with a win, so I'm happy to have achieved that. I knew that I too had to make a case for myself, and I think the team showed great determination throughout the three matches. In order to function as a team, we focused on communicating with each other at all times, and everyone did just dad. This is a team build by everyone. I think we have become a good team in a short period of time while keeping our goals firmly in mind. We must perform well in our league ahead of September and strive to improve ourselves towards the Word Cup. I will be fighting for my spot in the roster as a contender.
DF #19 SASAKI Sho (Sanfrecce Hiroshima)
The result was the most important thing in this tournament. It would have been better if we could have shown a better performance, but I think we were able to show the power of the J.League players by winning a tournament that has been a challenge for Japan. I remember the bitterness I felt at the tournament in 2019, where we struggled to play as a team, so I was determined to do a better job in this tournament. Despite finishing scoreless against China PR, we managed to reset our minds ahead of our final match against Korea Republic. Everyone on this team wanted to finish the tournament on a high note, and that strong desire kept us together as a team. I am extremely happy to score for the national team. I am not totally satisfied with my overall performance, especially considering the importance of this match, but I am delighted to see how we managed to score goals as a team. In terms of defence, we were constantly communicating with our peers to stay on the same page, which ultimately helped us keep a clean sheet today.
MF/FW #11 MACHINO Shuto (Shonan Bellmare)
Our team goal was to win this tournament, and I'm happy to have achieved my personal goal of scoring at least three goals. We knew from our scouting reports that our opponents were going to apply aggressive pressure when we had possession of the ball, so I focused on making runs into the spaces behind our opponents. I had been demanding the ball into the space from our training sessions and I think we were able to raise the quality of our plays through the course of this tournament. I am very confident in my abilities, and I had a clear vision of myself scoring the decisive goal for the team, which gave me even more confidence. With that being said, this tournament is over now. I must focus on helping my team in the J.League, so that I can be selected into the squad for the World Cup. I will try to make the most of the experience I gained from this tournament and strive to improve myself in the training sessions starting tomorrow.
MF/FW #16 SOMA Yuki (Nagoya Grampus)
I put my all into all three matches, and I was absolutely determined to do my best to contribute to the team. Knowing the history behind the matches against Korea Republic, the disappointment we suffered three years ago, and how strong our opponents were, I was thinking about what I could do to help the team. The fact that I was always trying to get into the penalty area helped me score those goals. I had been practising every day at Grampus with the intention of being able to strike a strong header like players from other countries, and it was only after six months of practice that I saw the results of my efforts. The intensity to win the ball in defence and my ability to chase down the opposing fullbacks, are my strong points. I still need to improve how I respond to crosses, but through this tournament, I was able to gain confidence in my ability to make runs into the near side and my set-pieces.
MF/FW #26 FUJITA Joel Chima (Yokohama F. Marinos)
With this being my first call-up to the senior team, I was determined to give my all from the training camp, which allowed me to obtain good results while cherishing each and every match in front of me. The assist for the first goal came when Koike had the ball on the right and I was positioned side by side with Iwata, which diverted the opponents’ attention. Knowing that I was unmarked, Iwata dummied the ball to give me the opportunity to make that play. The third goal also came from a play we had been working at Marinos, but it gave us confidence to know that it could be effective at the international stage. Although I was able to win the ball on some occasions, there were also scenes where I couldn’t win the ball, and I also made number of careless mistakes in offence. Those are some of the areas I must improve on. It would be nice to go to the World Cup, but I don't think it will be an easy task. I don't think I will be selected because I did well in this competition, but this competition gave me confidence for the future. It would be great if I could play well in the J.League and be selected in recognition of my daily efforts.
Paulo BENTO, Head Coach o Korea Republic National Team
Japan played as we expected, and we tried our best, but we made too many mistakes. If you make mistakes in these types of matches, you have to pay the price. We wanted to exploit the space behind the Japanese defence line, but they didn’t give us enough space to work with, which forced us to be on the defensive end. Japan took advantage of our mistakes, and I would like to congratulate them for their victory and the title. Japan played much better than us, so I think this is a fair result and they deserve to win. We will analyse this match and prepare for the World Cup in the best possible way.
EAFF E-1 Football Championship 2022 Final Japan (Men's Tournament)
Tournament Dates: Tue. 19 - Wed. 27 July 2022
Venues: Kashima Soccer Stadium (Ibaraki), Toyota Stadium (Aichi)
Participating Countries: Japan, China PR, Korea Republic, Hong Kong
- National Teams 2022/07/25 【Match Report】Despite their dominance SAMURAI BLUE finish second match of EAFF E-1 Football Championship in a scoreless draw against China PR
- National Teams 2022/07/25 【Scouting report】Seeking for their fourth consecutive E-1 title and beyond - Korea Republic National Team (EAFF E-1 Football Championship 2022 Final Japan)
- National Teams 2022/08/12 【Match Report】U-20 Japan Women's National Team start off tournament with win over the Netherlands
- National Teams 2022/08/12 U-19 Japan National Team short-listed squad - Training Camp (8/15-17＠Chiba)
- National Teams 2022/08/11 U-20 Japan Women's National Team hold final training session ahead of the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup™
- National Teams 2022/08/10 U-20 Japan Women's National Team aim to become the first team to ever win back-to-back titles - FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup Costa Rica 2022™
- Competitions 2022/08/08 Machida and Yugakkan both crowned champions after the final was called off, while Seiwa Gakuen finished third - JFA 9th U-18 Japan Futsal Championship