【Match Report】U-17 Japan National Team open group stage with a win - FIFA U-17 World Cup Indonesia 2023™
12 November 2023
On Saturday, 11 November, the U-17 Japan National Team played their first group stage match of the FIFA U-17 World Cup Indonesia 2023™ against the U-17 Poland National Team at Si Jalak Harupat Stadium in Bandung, Indonesia.
For this match, Head Coach MORIYAMA Yoshiro named GOTO Wataru (FC Tokyo U-18) as his starting goalkeeper, while MATSUMOTO Haruto (Kashima Antlers Youth), KOSUGI Keita (Shonan Bellmare U-18), TSUCHIYA Kaito (Kawasaki Frontale U-18), and HONDA Kotaro (Shonan Bellmare U-18) formed the four-man defence line. NAGANO Shuto (FC Tokyo U-18), NAKAJIMA Yotaro (Sanfrecce Hiroshima FC Youth), YOSHINAGA Yumeki (Kamimura Gakuen High School), and NAWATA Gaku (Kamimura Gakuen High School) started in midfield, while TOKUDA Homare (Kashima Antlers Youth) and INOUE Alen (Sanfrecce Hiroshima FC Youth) were the two strikers.
With this being the team's first appearance at a World Cup, the players were visibly nervous at kick-off, as Honda later reflected: “We went into the game a bit too stiff, both as a team and as individuals.”
In the eighth minute, Inoue latched on to Goto's punt and broke into space to go one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but his shot hit the post. After Japan had missed the best chance of the first half, the tide began to turn in Poland's favour as they began to dictate the tempo towards the end of the half.
However, Japan managed to regain the momentum in the second half by making several adjustments at half-time, with Kosugi later commenting: “We were unable to take the initiative, maybe because we were overwhelmed by the atmosphere, but we were able to change our mentality in the second half.”
Inoue broke into the space to fire a shot in the 57th minute, followed by a header struck by Tokuda in the 63rd minute. Inoue had another close opportunity in the 65th minute, when he responded to a through ball sent by Kosugi, but neither could find the back of the net.
The decisive moment came in the 77th minute when TAKAOKA Rento (Nissho Gakuen High School), who entered the game after a rain delay, received a pass from MICHIWAKI Yutaka (Roasso Kumamoto) just outside the penalty area before unleashing a powerful shot that found the back of the net, as the striker later reflected: “I was able to keep my composure to make that play.”
Despite Poland's late surge, the Japanese defence, led by Goto, held firm to keep a clean sheet as Japan began the tournament with a 1-0 victory.
Japan will now face Argentina on Tuesday, 14 November.
Coach and Players' Comments
MORIYAMA Yoshiro, Head Coach
The first half was tough as we were pinned back defensively and had to expend a lot of energy. I felt the players were overwhelmed by the situation and we were too passive. I told the players at half-time to play with courage and they responded well in the second half. We knew Poland were a great attacking team who had scored a lot of goals at the UEFA European U-17 Championship, so it was great to keep them off the scoreboard.
DF #5 HONDA Kotaro (Shonan Bellmare U-18)
I think the first half was something we really need to reflect on. However, we were able to dominate the second half, so we can take heart from the fact that we improved as the game went on. We stayed positive and encouraged each other even when the game was delayed.
MF #13 YOSHINAGA Yumeki (Kamimura Gakuen High School)
It was hard to settle in at first, but once I found my rhythm I was able to really enjoy myself. Our coach told us that as long as we stayed calm we would have our chances, and although we had no doubts about our ability, Takaoka did a great job to score that goal.
FW #11 TAKAOKA Rento (Nissho Gakuen High School)
We were told about the torrential rain in advance, so the rain didn't really affect us. My strength is my ability to play scrappy, so I continued to prepare even though the game was delayed. I was able to play my usual game when I scored the goal. I was able to keep my composure and shake off the defender before taking the shot.
FIFA U-17 World Cup Indonesia 2023™
Tournament Dates: Fri. 10 November - Sat. 2 December 2023
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