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【Match Report】U-17 Japan National Team conclude Algeria tour with victory over Comoros

31 March 2023

【Match Report】U-17 Japan National Team conclude Algeria tour with victory over Comoros

The U-17 Japan National Team, who are participating in a friendly tournament in Algeria, played their final match against the U-17 Comoros National Team on Tuesday 28 March.

On the day after the second match, the players were invited to dinner at the Embassy of Japan in Algeria, where they were able to recharge with Japanese food and the hospitality of the embassy staff and their families after spending nearly a week in an unfamiliar environment in Africa.

The U-17 Japan National Team went into the final match with one win and one draw, tied on points and goal difference with the host U-17 Algeria National Team. Ahead of the match, coach MORIYAMA Yoshiro told his players, “We want to score as many goals as possible to win the title, but the opposite often happens when we enter a match with that kind of mindset, so let's just concentrate on winning first.”

Although the Comoros are an island nation in Africa, all of their players play in France, allowing them to have a unique brand that combines both the French football style and African athleticism. In the match, Japan initially had trouble delivering passes into the attacking third. Goalkeeper AMANO Soma (Maebashi Ikuei High School), who was given the armband for the match, delivered a fantastic save to keep the opponents from scoring after an errant pass in their own half nearly cost them a goal in the 11th minute. Japan had a chance to score from a set-piece they had been working on during thus tour but fell short from finding the back of the net, and a sharp counter allowed a speedy opposition forward to slip in and create a crucial opportunity, but Amano once again came to the rescue.

After making three substitutions at the break, Japan immediately went on the attack. with TAKAOKA Rento (Nissho Gakuen High School) making a diving effort to connect with the cross delivered by SHIBATA Shotaro (Kawasaki Frontale U-18), who was one of the players brought on in the second half, to put Japan in the lead. Despite conceding the equaliser from a corner kick in the 53rd minute, Japan regained the lead with another goal scored by Takaoka in the 55th minute.

With momentum on their side, Japan went on a goal spree, with NAWATA Gaku (Kamimura Gakuen High School), KOSUGI Keita (Shonan Bellmare U-18), TAKAHASHI Aura (Chuogakuin High School), and MICHIWAKI Yutaka (Roasso Kumamoto) each scoring a goal in the 68th, 73rd, 84th, and 86th minutes respectively, giving Japan a 6-1 victory. With this win, Japan finished the tournament in first place with a record of two wins and a draw.

The AFC U-17 Asian Cup draw took place on June 30, as the players discovered they had been drawn into the same group as India, Vietnam, and Uzbekistan upon arriving at Narita Airport.

Coach and Players' Comments

MORIYAMA Yoshiro, Head Coach
This was our team’s first trip abroad since we toured Paraguay in December of last year. In the four-nation tournament, we played the host nation Algeria, African powerhouse Mali, and up-and-coming nation Comoros, and won the tournament with a record of two wins and one draw. The team played an intense and tough game from the first match against Mali and pulled off a comeback victory. In our second match against the host nation Algeria, we fell prey to the explosive counterattacks of our opponents, and at one point we were behind 0-3, but managed to rally back in the closing minutes to level the scores at 3-3 and keep our title hopes alive heading into the final match. We had a difficult first half in our final match, but with the help of our substitutes, we managed to score goals to win the match 6-1 and claim the title. Although there are still a few issues to be addressed, such as the intensity level, quality of play, and decision-making under pressure, the players worked hard at a very high level with great aggression in both offence and defence, and I am confident that they have made some solid progress. After more than a full day's travel, the players will be heading into the start of the league season at the weekend. It is a situation that demands a great deal of mental and physical toughness, but I hope that the players will continue to challenge themselves to grow even faster as they prepare for the final Asian qualifiers and the FIFA U-17 World Cup™. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all those who cooperated in organising and running this event and in dispatching the players. Thank you very much.

DF #4 OISHI Yuki (Mitsubishi Yowa SC Youth)
We needed to win this match by a large margin in order to win the title, but because our coach told us not to be overly anxious to score goals, we were able to maintain our composure even after finishing the first half scoreless. Although we conceded the equaliser right after scoring the first goal, we were able to win the match 6-1 thanks to the performance showcased by our substitutes. As a team, one of our concepts was to “grow with each match,” and I think we achieved that too. I am happy to have made my debut for the national team in a match where the championship was on the line, even though it was a game where my flaws were exposed. We faced a lot of challenges in this tour, but it also helped us grow a lot. Now that the pairings for the Asian qualifiers have been decided, I want to work hard so that I can become a better player and contribute to the team's victory. Thank you very much for all your support.

MF #19 TAKAHASHI Aura (Chuogakuin High School)
This was my first callup to the national team and I had a great experience during the 12 days. It was the first time for me to go abroad and play against African countries, and it was a great learning experience for me to experience the different environment and the physical ability of African players. I have also become more interested in foreign football than ever before through. I will continue to make the most of this experience.

FW #11 TAKAOKA Rento (Nissho Gakuen High School)
With the championship on the line, I was determined to chase the ball and score goals to help my team win the match. I wasn't able to pick up the pace at first and lost possession of the ball a lot, which I felt was an issue for me. I entered the second half with the intention of being more eager to score goals, which helped me score two goals. It was great that I managed to score a brace, but I also found many areas of my game that needs to be improved, so I want to make the most of this experience to become a better player.

International Friendly Match

Wed. 22 March, 22:00 local time (Thu. 23 March, 6:00 Japan time)
vs U-17 Mali National Team
Venue: Stade Tchaker (Algeria)

Sat. 25 March, 22:00 local time (Sun. 26 March, 6:00 Japan time)
vs U-17 Algeria National Team
Venue: Stade 5 Juillet (Algeria)

Tue. 28 March, 22:00 local time (Wed. 29 March, 6:00 Japan time)
vs U-17 Comoros National Team
Venue: Stade Tchaker (Algeria)

Tournament Information

  • 全日本空輸株式会社
  • au
  • Mizuho
  • MS&AD
  • MS&AD
  • 読売新聞社
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