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Japan beat Cambodia 3-0, record 1st win in World Cup qualifier

04 September 2015

Japan beat Cambodia 3-0, record 1st win in World Cup qualifier

SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) took on Cambodia as part of the 2nd round of the Asian qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, and defeated them 3-0 for their first win in the preliminary round. 

Midfielder HONDA Keisuke (AC Milan) scored the opener in the first half as defender YOSHIDA Maya (Southampton FC) and midfielder KAGAWA Shinji (Borussia Dortmund) followed with one goal each.

With the first win in the past five matches since the KIRIN Challenge Cup 2015 against Iraq on 11 June, they are now with four points with the record of one win and one draw in the group E. Cambodia’s total record is three losses in three matches so far.

Japan tried to recover from the bitter draw to Singapore in the first 2nd round match of the Asian qualifiers in June, where they let a winnable match slip away. After polishing their offensive options in training, they came out aggressively early in the match.

While Cambodia stayed back to play defensively, Japan dominantly executed their attacking, having defenders NAGATOMO Yuto (FC Internazionale Milano) and SAKAI Hiroki (Hannover 96) go up the flanks, changing sides dynamically, occasionally feeding backwards from the opponent’s goal line and connecting short passes in the flanks and in the middle. 

The crosses form the flanks, however, lacked accuracy and did not meet forwards MUTO Yoshinori (1.FSV Mainz 05) and Kagawa rushing into the box, which kept them from finishing with decent shots. To make it even more difficult for Japan, Cambodia had all their field players in their penalty box to defend their goal.

Then it was in the 28th minute. After a Cambodian player made a clearance of Kagawa’s cross from the right, the deflection was picked up by midfielder YAMAGUCH Hotaru (Cerezo Osaka) and gave it to Honda, who calmly yet strongly left-footed it into the back of the net after blowing off the goalkeeper’s reaching hands.

Japan kept attacking even after that for repetitive crucial moments. Kagawa in the 30th minute from a pass from Sakai, overlapping defender MORISHIGE Masato (F.C.Tokyo) in the 37th minute from mid-range, and Kagawa and forward OKAZAKI Shinji (Leicester City FC) one after another in the 40th minute from Yamaguchi’s through ball all aimed at Cambodia’s goal to add up the lead, only to be denied by the opposing goalkeeper. 

Cambodia’s only scoring opportunity in the match, on the other hand, came in the 35th minute when forward Kouch Sokumpheak headed a free-kick towards Japan’s goal, but Japan’s goalkeeper NISHIKAWA Shusaku (URAWA Reds) effortlessly saved the goal.

The second half did not see any slowdown in Japan’s offence. In the 50th minute, Yoshida got involved in the offence and forcefully fired from a mid-range off a pass from Yamaguchi and succeeded in extending the lead to two goals.

Then in the 61st minute, they added one more when Nagatomo well reacted to the rebounding ball of Okazaki’s shot and in the end Kagawa put it into the right corner of the goal.

Later on, the trio of forwards, USAMI Takashi (Gamba Osaka), KOHROGI Shinzoh (Urawa Reds) and HARAGUCHI Genki (Hertha BSC Berlin), saw the playing time off the bench and sought for a goal of their own.

Usami attempted through a touch-and-go with Kagawa, Kohrogi met a cross from Nagatomo and Haraguchi’s effort was off Usami’s pass, but they all fell short. Finally, Japan heard the whistle to give themselves the much-needed 3-0 win at the last home match of the year. 

Match detail

They will next play an away match against Afghanistan as the third match of the 2nd round of the Asian qualifiers. The match will take place in Tehran, Iran due to the instability of Afghanistan’s domestic situation. 

Coach and Players' Comments

Vahid HALILHODZIC, Coach of SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team)
They were expected to win and they got the win, so I want to congratulate them. They seemed to feel pressured a little, but their motivation to battle was high and excellent. I just think we could have scored more because we were successful in making big chances.

In defence, we allowed the opponents to make no more than four straight passes. I am satisfied with our variety of offence, but the combination between passers and receivers of cross balls was not good enough, even when the cross ball itself was good. Our two defensive midfielders could have fired more shots. We still have a lot of room to grow, so our plays can be more effective.

In next Afghanistan match, we will play to win again, and start creating a spiral of winning to make ourselves confident. 

MF   HASEBE Makoto (Eintracht Frankfurt)
Our attitude toward shooting has positively changed a little I think, but the number of chances we were able to make was about the same as the Singapore match. The accuracy in our finishes were not good enough, and we still need to be more creative when we get into as deep as the opponents’ penalty box. We will make sure to recover our condition, and keep working hard all together to be able to convert more of those critical opportunities in next match. 

DF   SAKAI Hiroki (Hannover 96)
In the Singapore match, we were too simple in attacking against the opponents sitting back. So I tried to go very high and deep partly in order to surprise the opponents. I couldn’t record an assist, but I think what I wanted to do with my cross ball was good. So if I keep sending more of those, my teammates will certainly score with it.

MF   HONDA Keisuke (AC Milan)
I think we deserve some credit for the win, but we could have scored more and the way we created chances wasn’t good, to be honest with you. I didn’t think my shot would go in, but that’s part of change of pace. Japan are not known for being creative and executing different things, but I think we tried. Speaking of the 30th career goal, I think I have piled those up one by one. 

LEE Tae Hoon, Coach (Cambodia National Team)
Japanese players were at a different level from where our players were. We played patiently, but allowed three goals. With that being said, we were able to stop some of their attacks. Our players played very hard. If there hadn’t been for Honda’s opening goal, we could have kept playing patiently for a little longer.

Our players were just scared of Japanese players and couldn’t attack aggressively. We need to grow a lot more, and I think our players learned a lot from this match. Next time we want to cut down goals allowed.

JFA-TV (Japanese version only)

  • Interview - HONDA Keisuke (AC Milan/Italy)

  • Interview - YOSHIDA Maya (Southampton FC/England)

  • Interview - KAGAWA Shinji (Borussia Dortmund/Germany)


Thu. 3 September 3-0 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Asian Qualifiers Round 2
AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 Preliminary Joint Qualification
vs Cambodia National Team (SAITAMA Stadium 2002)
More information
Fri. 4 September AM Training
Sat. 5 September PM Training
Sun. 6 September PM Training
Mon. 7 September 17:00 Official Training (Azadi stadium)
Tue. 8 September 16:55 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Asian Qualifiers Round 2
AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 Preliminary Joint Qualification
vs Afghanistan National Team (Azadi stadium)
More information

2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Asian Qualifiers Round 2 AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 Preliminary Joint Qualification

SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team)  vs   Afghanistan National Team
2015-9-8 (Tue.) - 16:55<Local Time>21:25 <Japan Time>(subject to change)

More information
Announcement from Iran Embassy of Japan – To people who come for the match against Afghanistan –

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