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HOME > SAMURAI BLUE > EAFF East Asian Cup 2015 TOP > NEWS > SAMURAI BLUE suffered come-from-behind loss to Korea DPR - 1st match in EAFF East Asian Cup 2015


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SAMURAI BLUE suffered come-from-behind loss to Korea DPR - 1st match in EAFF East Asian Cup 2015

03 August 2015

SAMURAI BLUE suffered come-from-behind loss to Korea DPR - 1st match in EAFF East Asian Cup 2015

SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team), playing their first match against Korea DPR in the EAFF East Asian Cup on 2 August in Wuhan, China, lost 2-1 due to a last minute goal at the end of the second half.

Vahid HALILHODZIC, the coach, aims for the team to become back-to-back champions as well as trying out new players in his team. He fielded newcomers, including midfielder MUTO Yuki (Urawa Reds) just behind the striker and defender ENDO Wataru (Shonan Bellmare) as the right wing back, which was a different position from his club team, to start the game. Japan started well, with those two players putting in a strong performance at the beginning of the game.

In the third minute, Endo, who ran along the right wing, passed a swift and low cross back to the centre. Then Muto reacted to it in front of the goal to strike the opener. It was the fastest ever goal by a player in their first international cap.

Under tough condition in the high heat and humidity, Japan continued to press from the top, passing the ball around rhythmically. The team performed well despite the short practice period in preparation, and waited for goal-scoring opportunities.

All the forwards, USAMI Takashi (Gamba Osaka), Muto, KAWAMATA Kengo (Nagoya Grampus), and NAGAI Kensuke (Nagoya Grampus), stayed ambitious for goals, taking shots aggressively. However, the opponent’s goalkeeper saved them well, and Japan could not add any more insurance.

Korea DPR moved their midfield players up the pitch, in addition to their two forwards to counter attack. Although after 30 minutes, they pressed near Japan’s goal, Japan’s players, including Endo, the defender FUJIHARU Hiroki (Gamba Osaka), the defender MAKINO Tomoaki (Urawa Reds), and the midfielder YAMAGUCHI Hotaru (Cerezo Osaka), defended solidly with commitment.

In the 44th minute, Muto waited patiently to pass the ball to Usami. Then Nagai took a shot, only for it to be saved by the goalkeeper. Soon after that Endo, who received a corner kick from Usami, reacted to a header. However, the opponent’s goalkeeper saved it once again. The game went into the second half at 1-0

In the second half, however, the match developed dramatically. As Japan were losing their stamina and could not apply enough pressure, Korea DPR started to attack more often. After 53 minutes, the midfielder JONG IL GWAN reacted to a long-distance pass with his head, probing for a goal.

After 66 minutes, when the tall forward PAK HYON IL came off the bench, the opponent moved more aggressively up front. Then in the 78th minute, Pak, who reacted to a long-distance pass from the right wing back, kicked the ball back to the right side, where the forward RI HYOK CHOL scored the equaliser.

The midfielder SHIBASAKI Gaku (Kashima Antlers) and forward KOHROGI Shinzoh (Urawa Reds) came off the bench. Shibasaki took a shot in the 63rd minute, and Muto in the 75th minute, but they could not find the back of the net. After 84 minutes, the forward ASANO Takuma (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), who was playing his debut match, was substituted onto the pitch.

However, Korea DPR were the ones who ended up adding to their tally. In the 89th minute, PAK HYON IL in front of the goal, who reacted to a cross from the left side, beat Japan’s defenders to head home, and decided the match.

Makino took a shot with a header, reacting to a free kick just before the final whistle, but could not score.

Match details

It was the first loss in five matches since the coach Halilhodzic took up his position, and the record is 3 wins, 1 loss and 1 draw.
Korea Republic won the match against China PR 2-0, and they are in the lead on goal difference, followed by Korea DPR in second place, China PR in third, and Japan in forth.

Japan will meet Korea Republic on 5 August, and China PR on 9 August.

Coach and Players' Comments

Vahid HALILHODZIC, Coach of SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team)
We prepared ourselves well to win this match, and started well, creating many goal-scoring opportunities. However, our physical strength didn’t last until the final whistle. Although I told the players during half time: “we’ll score the second goal to take control of the game”, the players weren’t sure whether to go forward or to keep possessions when they stole the ball, and lost it easily. The opponent’s No.20 came off the bench and showed off his ability.

I feel disappointment, as recently we couldn’t find the back of the net despite our goal-scoring opportunities. We must try something new in the remaining two games. I think I’ll make some change to my team to try out other players.

MF #18   MUTO Yuki (Urawa Reds)
Although I feel really frustrated that we couldn’t win the game, unexpectedly, I didn’t feel that nervous. I was glad that I struck a goal, which brought us some good rhythm. However, we lost our stamina towards the end and made many careless mistakes. Endo passed a superb cross for the goal. We did have more goal-scoring opportunities, and could have scored more. If we had scored one more goal, we could have decided the match, which is very frustrating.

In the second half, we could barely deal with the loose ball properly, and were pressed under the opponent’s power and height. We let the opponent take many shots from loose balls. Although we expected this, regretfully it did happen.

DF #21   ENDO Wataru (Shonan Bellmare)
We didn’t start the game badly at all. We focused on pushing forward from the beginning of the match, and could score a goal with our first cross pass. When I received the ball, I could see Endo running forward. So I passed an early cross to create an opportunity. In the first half, I think we played well. In terms of defence, we didn’t lose any one-on-ones and prevented the opponent’s crosses. However, we could have attacked better.


JFA-TV (Japanese version only)



Fri. 31 July 19:00 Official Practice (Wuhan Sports Center Training Ground1)
Sat. 1 August PM Training
Sun. 2 August 1-2 vs. Korea DPR
(Wuhan Sports Center Stadium)
Mon. 3 August AM Training
Tue. 4 August PM Training
Wed. 5 August 18:20 vs. Korea Republic
(Wuhan Sports Center Stadium)
Thu. 6 August AM Training
Fri. 7 August PM Training
Sat. 8 August PM Training
Sun. 9 August 20:10 China PR
(Wuhan Sports Center Stadium)

EAFF East Asian Cup 2015

Sun. 2 August - Sun. 9 August

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