SAMURAI BLUE in away draw with Iran
14 October 2015
SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) played an international friendly against Iran at Azadi stadium in Tehran on Tuesday 13 October. Although Iran struck the opener, the forward MUTO Yoshinori (1.FSV Mainz 05) scored a second-half equalizer to earn the team an away draw. The game ended at 1-1.
Vahid HALILHODZIC, the coach of SAMURAI BLUE, commented: “I’d like to try out several players.” He made five changes from the team that started the game against Syria in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Asian Qualifiers Round 2 on 8 October. YONEKURA Koki (Gamba Osaka) at left back, MORISHIGE Masato (F.C. Tokyo) at centre back, SHIBASAKI Gaku (Kashima Antlers) as a defensive midfielder, USAMI Takashi (Gamba Osaka) in left midfield, and Muto up front started the game. Iran rank 39th in the FIFA World Ranking, while Japan rank 55th.
Iran, who had also played the second Asian qualifying match in hot and humid Oman five days before, pressed Japan strongly from the beginning and halted Japan’s attacks. Vahid AMIRI and Ashkan DEJAGAH led swift attacks, while the tall 20-year-old forward Sardar AZMOUN aimed to take shots.
Ramin REZAEIAN sent a cross from the right wing in the 19th minute, and Azmoun in front of the goal received a cross from Ehsan HAJI SAFI in the 34th minute. However, Japan’s defenders, including Yonekura and Morishige defended them with their bodies.
However, just before the first half ended, midfielder Mehdi TORABI, who came off the bench, earned a penalty from YOSHIDA Maya (Southampton FC). Although the goalkeeper NISHIKAWA Shusaku (Urawa Reds) punched away the penalty from Dejagah, Torabi reacted to the loose ball and struck the opener.
In the second half, KIYOTAKE Hiroshi (Hannover 96) replaced the midfielder KAGAWA Shinji (Borussia Dortmund). After 48 minutes, just after the second half started, Muto, who was in front of the goal, reacted to a cross from HONDA Keisuke (AC Milan), competed against the opponent’s goalkeeper and headed the ball home, despite the ball once hitting the opponent’s defenders. Japan had levelled the game.
In the 59th minute, although Muto counter-attacked after receiving a pass from Usami, the opponent’s goalkeeper came forward to defend it well. Honda, who received a loose ball, was also rebuffed and could not find the back of the net.
Then the forward HARAGUCHI Genki (Hertha BSC Berlin) came on for Usami, while the forward OKAZAKI Shinji (Leicester City Football Club) replaced Honda and the midfielder KASHIWAGI Yosuke (Urawa Reds) was brought on for Shibasaki.
Iran’s players started to show their fatigue, but in the 64th minute Amiri dribbled up the pitch to try to pass to Dejagah, only for it to be intercepted by Yonekura. Six minutes later, although Dejagah took a strong shot from the right side, the goalkeeper Nishikawa saved the goal.
The coach Halilhodzic sent NIWA Daiki (Gamba Osaka) to the right wing to replace the defender SAKAI Gotoku in the 75th minute. Then at the end of the game, he also sent the 20-year-old forward MINAMINO Takumi (Salzburg) on to the pitch, looking for a deciding goal. However, Japan could not score any more, and drew the match 1-1.
Prior to the game, the players and the coaches of both teams laid floral tributes and observed a moment of silence on the pitch in memory of the former Iran forward Hadi NOROUZI, who passed away suddenly from illness on 1 October.
Japan will play away matches against Singapore on Thursday 12 November, and against Cambodia on Tuesday 17 November in the FIFA World Cup Asian Qualifiers Round 2 in November.
Coach and Players' Comments
Vahid HALILHODZIC, Coach of SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team)
It was a good friendly with competitive edge. In the first half, we couldn’t control the game and I wasn’t satisfied with the performance at all. Although we didn’t give away many goal-scoring opportunities, we let the opponent have a penalty due to a lack of concentration.
In the second half, we played much better with individual strength. If we had stayed calmer, we could have put some distance between us and the opponent and won the match. Having said that, as the opponent did have opportunities through their advantage in the air, I think we ended up with a reasonable result.
I believe the new players had a good experience in the game, and I’m satisfied with their performance. It was essential to understand how to play against an opponent that is physically stronger. We could have taken the initiative through our strong points – technique - but we weren’t calm at all and made many mistakes. This kind of match can be decided by small things – luck or experience. It was a good test to add to our experience and necessary to improve ourselves.
FW MUTO Yoshinori (1.FSV Mainz 05/Germany)
I think I could react well to crosses. I could have done a bit more, but it was good to score. Although I was pleased to strike a goal, I regret that I couldn’t add any more insurance through a 1-on-1, with which we could have turned the game around. This opponent was the strongest in Asia, against whom we have played so far. I will take a draw as a positive. Still, I’d like to learn from our mistakes.
FW MINAMINO Takumi (Salzburg/Austria)
Although I was glad to be on the pitch for the first time, I couldn’t play with the ball yet. So I’d like to try harder whenever I have another opportunity. As I learned what was required in the national team, I’d like to practice back in my club in order to be back here.
DF YONEKURA Koki (Gamba Osaka)
As it was my first time to play with players based abroad, I was caught up in the atmosphere. I became calmer in the second half. The coach told us to play hard near the ball, and I think I stayed fairly competitive.
FW HONDA Keisuke (AC Milan/Italy)
As I thought both teams could win, the result was appropriate. We weren’t bad in the first half. We should have improved ourselves to play more collectively to show off our strengths. We ought to learn how to display individual skill. Each player needs to practice everyday, bearing that in mind, so that we can play consistently in an away match. I could have done so in the first half, and I feel I didn’t do enough.
Carlos QUIEROZ, Coach of Iran National Team
It was a good opportunity for us to learn what an international friendly can be. At some points, Japan played brilliantly and we had to concentrate on defence to prevent them. Having said that, we could show off our style especially in the first half. As both of us failed to score through our best goal-scoring opportunities, I think the result was fair.
|Mon. 5 October
|Tue. 6 October
|Wed. 7 October
|Official Conference (Seeb Stadium)
Official Training (Seeb Stadium)
|Thu. 8 October
|2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Asian Qualifiers Round 2
AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 Preliminary Joint Qualification
vs Syria National Team (Seeb Stadium)
|Fri. 9 October
|Sat. 10 October
|Sun. 11 October
|Mon. 12 October
|Official Conference (Azadi stadium)
Official Training (Azadi stadium)
|Tue. 13 October
|International Friendly Match
vs Iran National Team (Azadi stadium)
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