Japan thrash Iraq 4-0, boost for World Cup qualifiers - KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2015
12 June 2015
SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) thrashed Iraq 4-0 thanks to goals from forward HONDA Keisuke (AC Milan) and substitute forward HARAGUCHI Genki (Hertha BSC Berlin) on 11 June in the KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2015 at Nissan Stadium in Yokohama and boosted themselves for the first match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Asian Qualifiers Round 2 against Singapore to be held five days later.
The Japanese bench started defender NAGATOMO Yuto (FC Internazionale), who made his first appearance since the AFC Asian Cup last January, midfielder SHIBASAKI Gaku (Kashima Antlers), who was placed in the starting lineup for the first time since last October, and forward USAMI Takashi, who held down SAMURAI's starting position for the first time. Japan added a string of goals through aggressive vertically-quick plays.
In the 5th minute, Shibasaki picked up the ball at the halfway line and fed a through ball to space behind the opposing defensive line. Honda responded to the pass and put it into the right side of the net for his side's opening goal.
Japan continued to attack as defender MAKINO Tomoaki met midfielder KAGAWA Shinji's left corner kick with his left foot in the 9th minute. Makino grabbed his second goal as a Japanese international and it is his first goal since the match against Iceland in February, 2012.
Japan, taking the initiative with the two early goals, kept showing vertically quick attacks afterwards. Usami fired a blast from the outside of the box in the 13th minute, and forward OKAZAKI Shinji's shot hit off the cross bar in the 15th minute.
In the 32nd minute, after Japan intercepted the ball in the midfield, the ball went through Kagawa and Shibasaki and to Usami. Usami then dribbled up to thread a pass to Okazaki, who showed up on the space in the middle by pulling away opposing defenders. Okazaki picked the ball up and launched a left-footed shot for his third consecutive goals in the last three matches to help his team extend the lead to three.
The Iraq bench started seven of the players who played at the Asian Cup, where they clinched fourth place, while their key player Younis Mahmoud was absent from the squad for this Japan match. Lacking their offensive hub, they were forced to keep defending after the two goals they conceded early in the match.
In the 27th minute, Iraq grabbed a mere chance of the first half. Defender Dhurgham Ismael went up and received a pass from midfielder Ahmed Yaseen Gheni and cut into the box to come close to Japanese goal, yet midfielder HASEBE Makoto (Eintracht Frankfurt) denied the attack.
In the closing minutes of the first half, forward Justin Hikmat Azeez unleashed a free kick, but it went wide.
The possession remained at the Japan side in the second half. In the 65th minute, Honda's shot from the edge of the box hit the post.
Halilhodzic changed three up front attackers in the 66th minute as Haraguchi, forwards NAGAI Kensuke (Nagoya Grampus) and MUTO Yoshinori (F.C. Tokyo) were subbed in, and forward OSAKO Yuya (1.FC Koln) was also sent onto the pitch in the 73rd minute. Those fresh legs moved aggressively to activate their attacks.
In the 84th minute, although Shibasaki's vertical pass was cleared by an opposing defender, Haraguchi picked it up and right-footed it to make it 4-0 with his first goal in his national team career after two years from his SAMURAI BLUE debut. Japan posted their third straight win since Halilhodzic took over the head coach role.
As a sidenote, midfielder TANIGUCHI Shogo (Kawasaki Frontale) made an international debut when he was sent on in the 76th minute.
Head Coaches' Comments
Vahid Halilhodzic, Head Coach of SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team)
It was a very spectacular and good game. My players have got speed and it was effective. The defenders were also positioning very well. Some of the moves on the offence were at very high level. They had some moments where they got trouble and could've scored more. But this victory is enough to get satisfied with. It turned out to be a great preparation for the qualifiers. Substitutes also showed how well they can play. The competition level within the team is getting higher. I want to say to them "Bravo," and I also want to thank the wonderful support from fans. The players are doing what I expect them to do, but they won't be satisfied at this point and get better.
AKRAM SELMAN, Head Coach (Iraq National Team)
It was good for Japan, but we got bad luck. We knew Japan were going to play good football and wanted to keep them scoreless for the first 15 minutes. Despite that plan, we gave away the two early goals and our players lost confidence. The first and fourth goals were scored through our defensive mistakes. The long trip and the absence of captain Younis Mahmoud had a negative effect, but it was good that we learned a lot from Japan and found out our defensive weakness.
JFA-TV (Japanese version only)
Interview - OKAZAKI Shinji (1.FSV Mainz 05/Germany)
Interview - HARAGUCHI Genki (Hertha BSC Berlin/Germany)
Interview - MAKINO Tomoaki (Urawa Reds)
|Mon. 1 June
|Tue. 2 June
|Wed. 3 June
|Thu. 4 June
|Fri. 5 June
|Sat. 6 June
|Sun. 7 June
|Mon. 8 June
|Tue. 9 June
|Wed. 10 June
|Thu. 11 June
|KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2015
vs. Iraq National Team (Nissan Stadium)
|Fri. 12 June
|Sat. 13 June
|Sun. 14 June
|Mon. 15 June
|Tue. 16 June
(subject to change)
|2018 FIFA World Cup and 2019 AFC Asian Cup Joint Qualifiers Round 2
vs. Singapore National Team (Saitama Stadium 2002)
Note: The schedule is subject to change.
2018 FIFA World Cup and 2019 AFC Asian Cup Joint Qualifiers Round 2
SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) vs Singapore National Team
Tue. 16 June Kickoff 19:30 (subject to change)
Saitama / Saitama Stadium 2002
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