【Match Report】U-17 Japan National Team shutout U-17 Senegal National Team 2-0 to book their place in the knockout stage - FIFA U-17 World Cup Indonesia 2023™
18 November 2023
On Friday, 17 November, the U-17 Japan National Team played their third group stage match of the FIFA U-17 World Cup Indonesia 2023™ against the U-17 Senegal National Team at Si Jalak Harupat Stadium in Bandung, Indonesia.
Going into the match, the African champions had already booked their place in the knockout stages with two successive wins. Japan, on the other hand, had one win and one defeat and needed a draw or better to qualify for the knockout stage, as head coach MORIYAMA Yoshiro described: “It was a game we couldn't afford to lose.”
For this match, Japan started GOTO Wataru (FC Tokyo U-18) in goal, with a back line of SHIBATA Shotaro (Kawasaki Frontale U-18), KOSUGI Keita (Shonan Bellmare U-18), TSUCHIYA Kaito (Kawasaki Frontale U-18), and HONDA Kotaro (Shonan Bellmare U-18). YADA Ryunosuke (Shimizu S-Pulse Youth), NAKAJIMA Yotaro (Sanfrecce Hiroshima FC Youth), YOSHINAGA Yumeki (Kamimura Gakuen High School), and SATO Ryunosuke (FC Tokyo) were positioned in midfield while TOKUDA Homare (Kashima Antlers Youth) and INOUE Alen (Sanfrecce Hiroshima FC Youth) were paired up front.
In their previous two matches, Japan had struggled dearly against the opponents’ intense pressure from the outset, which was something the players had never experienced in domestic competitions. As a result, the team focused more on defence than usual in the first half, as Shibata recalled: “The game plan was to keep it 0-0 in the first half.”
“We had to be patient going into the game, which may have been stressful for the players, but they showed their ability to carry out the tactics that were asked of them.”
As Moriyama recalled, the team respond tenaciously to the Senegalese attacks with a set defence, rather than aimlessly trying to win the ball, allowing them to keep their opponents scoreless in the first half.
The introduction of YAMAMOTO Joi (Tokyo Verdy Youth) and TAKAOKA Rento (Nissho Gakuen High School) in the 55th minute gave Japan more options in the attacking third. In the 62nd minute, Takaoka responded to Shibata's cross with a well-timed header to open the scoring.
With momentum on their side, Japan doubled their lead in the 72nd minute, when Takaoka forced a turnover from the opposing goalkeeper before slotting the ball into the open net.
Despite the late surge made by Senegal, Japan managed to keep the opposing offence at bay to earn a 2-0 shutout victory.
With this win, Japan advanced through the group stage in third place with a record of two wins and a loss. The team will now face Spain, the winners of Group B, in the round of 16 on Monday, 20 November.
Coach and Players' Comments
MORIYAMA Yoshiro, Head Coach
We were up against Senegal, who are capable of capitalising on just one opportunity, so we went into the match very cautiously. The players did a great job to execute our game plan today. We played against three vastly different teams in this group stage and each match has been a great learning experience.
DF #17 SHIBATA Shotaro (Kawasaki Frontale U-18)
I am glad that I was able to assist a goal for Takaoka, who is my roommate. I have been struggling with the accuracy of my crosses since arriving here, but I am finally getting a feel for it. We really didn’t want to end our journey here, so I am glad that we were able to advance through. We are just getting started.
MF #13 YOSHINAGA Yumeki (Kamimura Gakuen High School)
This could have been our final match of this tournament, so I am glad that we were able to display a great match as a team. I had to cover for Kosugi, our left fullback, in the second half, so I made a conscious effort to drop back. I feel like I was able to contribute to the team when it really mattered.
FW #11 TAKAOKA Rento (Nissho Gakuen High School)
Shibata delivered a great cross and all I had to do was make good contact with the ball. I was able to score the second goal by applying aggressive pressure from the front, which I consider to be my strong point, so I was happy to show it. The goal I scored against Poland really boosted my confidence, and the fact that I have scored in three games in a row has given me even more.
FIFA U-17 World Cup Indonesia 2023™
Tournament Dates: Fri. 10 November - Sat. 2 December 2023
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