SAMURAI BLUE notches 1st victory under Aguirre against Jamaica
11 October 2014
The Japan men’s national team, nicknamed SAMURAI BLUE, posted a 1-0 win with a first-half own goal in the 2014 Kirin Challenge Cup against Jamaica at Niigata Denka Big Swan Stadium on Friday, and earned their first victory in their third attempt under Javier Aguirre.
After they had a loss and a draw in September, Japan used Nishikawa Shusaku as their starting goalkeeper this time, while they had Sakai Gotoku, Shiotani Tsukasa Morishige Masato and Nagatomo Yuto for their defensive line. Hosogai Hajime was put as the anchor man, Shibasaki Gaku and Kagawa Shinji were put as inside halves in the right and left, respectively. Aguirre placed Okazaki Shinji in the middle, Honda Keisuke in the right and Muto Yoshinori in the left for the three-top up front.
Jamaica, who are preparing for November’s Caribbean Cup, tried to put pressures on Japan, taking advantage of their physical abilities. They tried to hold Japan by man-marking Honda, Okazaki and Kagawa. But Japan would rob the ball in the mid field and quickly connect it for their offensive attacks to score a goal.
And Japan scored their first goal in that way on 16th minute. Okazaki took the ball from the opponents in the middle, and then relayed it with Honda and Shibasaki. Shibasaki fired a shot from the shot. It was saved by the Jamaica goalkeeper but the deflected ball hit defender Nyron Nosworthy and it went into the goal.
On 33rd, Sakai intercepted a side pass of Jamaica and sent a pass to Honda. Honda got one-on-one with the Jamaica goalkeeper and he scooped a shot above the head of the goalkeeper, but it ended up hitting the cross bar.
On 40th, Sakai, who ran up in the right side, launched a shot, cutting inside. It deflected an opposing defender and went to Okazaki, who was at the far side. The 1. FSV Mainz 05 player over-headed it, but it went above the bar.
Japan would not get loose in the second half as well. Muto and Okazaki threatened the Jamaica goal while others like Shibasaki, Kagawa and Nagatomo came in up front to help Japan add another goal. On 55th, Okazaki, who received a pass from Shibasaki, fired a shot.
On 61st minute, Muto headed a cross of Kagawa, who ran up in the left side, yet the Jamaica goalkeeper sprung it out of the goal mouth, drawing the sighs of the 39,628 fans at the stadium.
In the meantime, Japan allowed Jamaica forward Darren Mattocks to rob the ball and have a scoring opportunity while they were passing it with the defensive line, but Morishige saved it.
Honda, Kagawa and KOBAYASHI Yu, who came on the pitch as a substitute, fired shots, but none of them was able to net it.
Meanwhile, Kagawa left the team due to an injury after the game. The national team left for Singapore on Saturday to prepare for Tuesday’s match against Brazil.
Javier AGUIRRE, Head Coach of SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team)
I’m pleased that we won, but we could’ve scored five or six more goals. The result doesn’t indicate the content of our game, so I’m not satisfied, but overall we played with good concentration and it was good that we could play as a team. We came up with 20 shots today, but I don’t think we’ll have that many chances and we will have to firmly make one chance. We also have to develop the quality of our finishes. Okazaki, Muto, Kakitani, Kagawa, Honda, Shibasaki and Kobayashi are players who can put up good performance and score, but they still need to work. Tennis players and pianists are working every day. Football players are no different but have to work. Japanese players are trying to win and there are high-quality players, so they can push the ball forward. In the future, I want to see Japan develops, capitalizing on their own weapons. When you have qualities and responsibilities, that leads to success.
FW HONDA Keisuke (AC Milan)
It’s the best that we won the game. Of course we are not satisfied with the content and result, but it was good that we gave up no goals and won it. While our coach asked us to do in short periods, we had some things that we were able to exhibit. (On his shot hitting the bar) I thought about a little too much. I’ve got to make shots like that.
MF KAGAWA Shinji (Borussia Dortmund)
The national team is a special place to be at. I wanted to make a goal, and we shouldn’t have finished today’s game with a 1-0 score, so we have issues to resolve. We’ll need to correct them. I want to show the experience and frustrations that we had in Brazil.
DF SAKAI Gotoku (VfB Stuttgart)
I played in this stadium first time after two years. I played only for 5 minutes at that time but I felt I made some progress since then for playing 90 minutes today. I wish I could produce some output but this is victory for the team anyway. I am happy to win the game in Niigata, my hometown.
Winfried SCHAEFER, Head Coach of Jamaica National Team
We knew that Japan, one of the best teams in Asia, would have more chances against us. We are a new team, and it was important for us to perform to our limit with all the members, so I told our players who showed their hearts `Congratulations’ after the game. We were able to test four players coming in the Caribbean Cup, so we got to understand which players we should go with. We want to polish our tactics for the tournament. I think that Japan is improving and is a great team.
Honda Keisuke Interview
Shibasaki Gaku Interview
International Friendly Match
Tuesday, 14 October 2014 Kickoff at 18:45 (local time) 19:45(Japan Time)
SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) vs Brazil National Team
Singapore/The Singapore National Stadium
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