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【Match Report】U-16 Japan National Team face France in the semi-finals of the 50th Montaigu Tournament

09 April 2023

【Match Report】U-16 Japan National Team face France in the semi-finals of the 50th Montaigu Tournament

On Saturday 8 April, the U-16 Japan National Team faced the host nation, U-16 France National Team, in the semi-finals of the 50th Montaigu Tournament in front of a crowd of over 6,000 people at the tournament's main stadium, Montaigu.

The Japanese team kept the ball moving in their own half to set up chances to send a vertical pass, but the French defence displayed excellent organisation to close up the passing lanes, denying their opponents any opportunities. But, as the game went on, Japan began to penetrate the spaces in the flanks, completing more plays with a shot. France, on the other hand, took advantage of the errant passes made by Japan to launch sharp counterattacks that threatened the Japanese goal, but neither side was able to find the back of the net, as the first half ended scoreless.

In efforts to score the opening goal, Japan started the second half by bringing in SEKIGUCHI Kota (Shimizu S-Pulse Youth) for YAMAGUCHI Gota (Shohei High School) and pressing from the front to prevent France from moving the ball freely. Then, in the 56th minute, NAKAYAMA Shion (Tokyo Verdy Youth) delivered a feed to the left side to start a counterattack. This allowed HAMASAKI Kento (Vissel Kobe U-18) to carry the ball before sending a through ball behind the French defence line, setting up an opportunity for Sekiguchi, who struck a left footed shot that flew over the goalkeeper and into the net.

After conceding the opener, the French side dramatically changed their approach from the first half and started to attack with more depth, which put Japan up against the wall. However, led by ARAKI Rui (Gamba Osaka Youth), KUROKI Yuya (Sagan Tosu U-18), and OKAWA Yugo (Kashima Antlers Junior Youth), Japan showed great focus in defence to prevent the home side from scoring a goal and win the match 1-0. As a result, Japan advanced to the final, where they will play England to claim their first title since 2004.

Players' Comments

DF #15 KUROKI Yuya (Sagan Tosu U-18)
In today’s match against France, we managed to defend tenaciously to keep the home side from scoring in the first half and make great adjustments to increase our intensity in the second half. The defence line maintained focus to keep the team in the game even when we struggled to convert our chances, which ultimately led to this result. We hope to demonstrate an even better performance in the final to finish off the tournament on a high note.

DF #16 TSUKUDA Souta (Yokohama FC Youth)
I am glad that we were able to prevail in this intense semi-final match against France, especially in this completely away setting. Personally, I feel like I was able to demonstrate my strengths in defence, but wasn’t able to contribute much in offence, so I hope to do a better job in both ends at the final. We will be facing another European powerhouse, England, in the final, so we will continue to challenge ourselves to grow as a team and win the title.

MF #14 KAWASAKI Kanta (Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo U-18)
We entered this match determined to earn our spot into the final. We were able to fight through the entire match under a completely away atmosphere, which is something we cannot experience in Japan. I am glad that we managed to keep a clean sheet as a team. Personally, I feel relieved that I was able to demonstrate my usual play in the second half after how I struggled in the first half. We will give our all in the final to take home the title.

FW #10 NAKAYAMA Shion (Tokyo Verdy Youth)
It was nerve wracking to play in front of a big crowd in a completely away setting, but it was great to see our side maintain a clean sheet. We approach every game with a sense of responsibility and awareness of fighting with Japan on our shoulders, which I believe contributed to today’s victory. However, we have not achieved anything yet. It doesn’t mean anything if we lose in the final, so we hope to give it our all to take home the trophy to Japan.

The 50th Montaigu Tournament

Tournament Dates: Tue. 28 March - Wed. 12 April 2023
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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