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HOME > SAMURAI BLUE > 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ / AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019™ Preliminary Joint Qualification - Round 2 TOP > NEWS > Japan held to scoreless draw by Singapore despite relentless attacks – FIFA World Cup Asian Qualifiers Round 2


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Japan held to scoreless draw by Singapore despite relentless attacks – FIFA World Cup Asian Qualifiers Round 2

17 June 2015

Japan held to scoreless draw by Singapore despite relentless attacks – FIFA World Cup Asian Qualifiers Round 2

SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) had their first match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Asian Qualifiers Second Round on 16 June as they failed to start with a victory after being held 0-0 by Singapore at Saitama Stadium 2002 and ended up with grabbing only one point.

Japan, who aimed at their sixth straight tournament appearance, started with the same squad as the friendly against Iraq on 11th except for defender OTA Kosuke (F.C.Tokyo) starting in place of defender NAGATOMO Yuto (FC Internazionale Milano).

While Japan attempted to go on a vertically swift attack, Singapore appeared to keep in form after defeating Cambodia 4-0 in the opening match of their qualifying campaign on 11th. Singapore closed Japan's passing angle and hold up their attacks by building up a defensive block with a 4-5-1 system.

Japan struggled to break through such defence in the first half, but midfielder SHIBASAKI Gaku (Kashima Antlers) and forward USAMI Takashi (Gamba Osaka) led the team to seek a path for their attacks and actually created goal-scoring opportunities.

Midfielder KAGAWA Shinji (Borussia Dortmund) broke through the right side in the 12th minute, and midfielder HASEBE Makoto (Eintracht Frankfurt) responded to Usami's vertical pass for a shot in the 22nd minute.

In the 30th minute, forward OKAZAKI Shinji (1.FSV Mainz 05) received a pass from forward HONDA Keisuke (AC Milan) and fired a shot with his left foot. In the 38th minute, defender MAKINO Tomoaki met Ota's corner kick, but his shot went wide.

Japan continued to dominate the match in the second half as they carved out critical opportunities. In the 55th minute, Okazaki headed Ota's left cross toward goal, but Singapore goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud kept the shot out on the goalline.

The Japan bench sent on forward OSAKO Yuya (1. FC KOLN) for Kagawa in the 61st minute. With forward HARAGUCHI Genki (Hertha BSC Berlin) subbed in for Shibasaki in the 71st minute and forward MUTO Yoshinori (F.C. Tokyo) replacing Usami seven minutes later, Japan looked for openings.

In the 73rd minute, Honda, who showed a string of acute shots earlier in the match, fired a free kick, but it went off the cross bar. Usami responded to the deflection, yet his shot effort was denied by the Singapore goalkeeper again.

The total number of shots by Japan were 23 while Singapore had 3. Japan came close to goal with sublime attacks but failed to net until the end.

As a result, Singapore take top spot in Group E with four points out of one win and one draw followed by Syria standing at second spot. Japan started their campaign at fourth place following Afghanistan, who are in third place after beating Cambodia 1-0 on the road on the same day. Point-wise Syria and Afghanistan are tied with three points. Cambodia had to settle for fifth place with two straight losses.

A total of 39 teams are placed in eight different groups to face group rivals at the second round of the Asian qualifiers as a top team in each group and top four second placed teams among all groups will advance to the final qualifiers.

Japan will take on Cambodia at home and Afghanistan in Tehran in September, meeting Syria away in October, playing away games against Singapore and Cambodia in November followed by home matches against Afghanistan and Syria in March next year.

Head Coach and Players' Comments

Vahid Halilhodzic, Head Coach of SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team)
In my long football career, it was the first time to keep dominating the match like this, make as many as 19 scoring chances and yet end like this. We all are disappointed with the result. 

The team made all necessary preparations possible and the players did everything they could to win, but just something was missing to get a good result. We sometimes rushed in front of goal, we didn’t have luck and their goalkeeper was outstanding, too. It’s a tough result to swallow, but we don’t need to have our heads down. Next time we will make sure to score goals and win.

HONDA Keisuke (AC Milan)
It was understandable for the fans to boo at us. Somebody should have scored. They defended well against our shots, so you can say it was them who played well. They defended to slow our tempo down, so we needed to stay patient and slow it down by ourselves for our favour. But we kept playing up-tempo, the course of the match went like that, and we couldn’t adjust to it flexibly.

The result is a shock for us, but we recognised again how difficult the qualifying matches are. We can’t survive in the World Cup without overcoming that difficulty. We will refresh our minds and get ready for next one.

BERND STANGE, Head Coach of Singapore National Team
We created a result that we didn’t expect. It’s a sensation. Japan played great offensive football. We weren’t able to play such fantastic plays, but we kept our defence compact, looked for counterattacks and tried not to commit foolish fouls. We did what we could do. There was also a luck factor. 

It would have been better, if we had been able to play more counterattacks, but we weren’t as good. But on the course of our team development, a result like this is necessary and important. 

JFA-TV (Japanese version only)

  • Interview - HONDA Keisuke (AC Milan)

  • Interview - OKAZAKI Shinji (1.FSV Mainz 05)

  • Interview - HASEBE Makoto (Eintracht Frankfurt)


Mon. 1 June PM Training
Tue. 2 June AM/PM Training
Wed. 3 June 17:00 Training
Thu. 4 June 17:00 Training
Fri. 5 June 17:00 Training
Sat. 6 June 17:00 Training
Sun. 7 June 17:00 Training
Mon. 8 June PM Training
Tue. 9 June PM Training
Wed. 10 June PM Official Training
Thu. 11 June 4-0 KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2015
vs. Iraq National Team (Nissan Stadium)
Fri. 12 June PM Training
Sat. 13 June PM Training
Sun. 14 June PM Training
Mon. 15 June PM Official Training
Tue. 16 June 0-0 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.

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