SAMURAI BLUE draw with China PR, finish fourth – EAFF East Asian Cup Final Day
10 August 2015
SAMURAI BLUE faced China PR on 9 August in their final match at the EAFF East Asian Cup in Wuhan, China. The Japanese side ended up drawing with China PR 1-1 and finished their campaign in fourth place with one loss and two ties.
Japan finished in the bottom without earning any win for the first time in their past six appearances of this tournaments since the tournament began in 2003.
Korea Republic won the championship after they drew with Korea DPR 0-0 in the first match of the day, adding another point to five for one win and two ties. Their championship is for the first time in the last three appearances since 2008. China PR and Korea DPR were levelled with one win, one loss and one tie. On the result between the teams in question, China claimed runners-up and Korea DPR took third place.
Japan sent on SAMURAI BLUE debutants from Gamba Osaka, goalkeeper HIGASHIGUCHI Masaaki, defenders NIWA Daiki and YONEKURA Koki, as they formed the defensive line along with central defenders MAKINO Tomoaki (Urawa Reds) and MORISHIGE Masato (F.C. Tokyo).
Defender ENDO Wataru (Shonan Bellmare), who played a right back in the first and second matches, was featured in the defensive midfield alongside midfielder YAMAGUCHI Hotaru (Cerezo Osaka). Japan coach Halilhodzic placed four players in the offensive end – midfielder MUTO Yuki (Urawa Reds), forward USAMI Takashi (Gamba Osaka) and Nagoya Grampus strikers NAGAI Kensuke and KAWAMATA Kengo.
In the cool weather completely different from yesterday's, China PR, having championship at stake with a win, put aggressive pressure in front of home fans' support and played on accurate counterattacks.
10 minutes after the kick-off, China PR connected passes in the box from a throw-in before Wu Lei, who lurked from the midfield, kicked it into the net to open the scoring. Wu continued to come close to Japan's goal on counterattacks.
Usami fired a shot off the cross bar in the 3rd minute. In the 15th minute, Yonekura received a pass from Usami and took a shot, but his shot was blocked by an opponent. Japan attempted to connect passes around the box, but their passes were robbed by the opponents, which forced Japan not to finish their attacks with a shot.
Yet in the 41st minute, when Yonekura fed a cross into the box after rushing for Makino's through ball on the left flank, Muto met the cross with his right foot to find the net. The goal was the product of good combination of running and one-touch plays with a good tempo. Muto became the sixth Japanese player to score in each of the first two career national team matches following FC Basel 1983 forward KAKITANI Yoichiro achieved the same feat in 2013.
After finishing the first half 1-1, Japan gained more time passing the ball composedly partially because China PR slowed down. Despite playing the left back, which is the opposite side Yonekura usually plays on his club, he threatened China PR with a shot from the edge of the box in the 51st minute, while hurrying back for defence and denying an opposing counterattack with a composed tackle as well.
After Japan subbed in forward KOROKI Shinzo in the 61st minute, they started to be able to keep the ball up front to dominate the match with a good attacking rhythm. In the 70th minute, Muto responded to Yamaguchi's through ball and fired a shot, but the opposing goalkeeper halted his effort.
Japan sent on midfielder SHIBASAKI Gaku (Kashima Antlers) in the 74th minute and forward ASANO Takuma (Sanfrecce Hiroshima) in the 84th minute to look for goal-scoring opportunities. Endo headed Shibasaki's free kick in added time, but his shot went wide just before the match ended in a draw.
Coach and Players' Comments
Vahid HALILHODZIC, Coach of SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team)
It was the best match in this tournament in terms of players' performance and their fighting spirit. That's because their fatigue was removed and we were able to work on tactical training for the first time before coming out for the match. But I knew we could do that well at this level.
It's disappointing we weren't able to win in spite of a couple of the goal-scoring opportunities we had, but I can give the players credit for their performance. If we had two or three more days to prepare, we could've made those three matches different.
Through this tournament, I got to understand the players who play in Japan and found a couple of players who would be named in the SAMURAI BLUE squad from now on as well. That was one of my objectives here, so I'm really satisfied. There was something missing in final passing and finishing, and we were naive when giving up a goal.
But most of the players showed a great spirit and action, and an ideal goal was scored. I want them to keep up the work. I'm not satisfied with the result, but I'm not really disappointed.
DF #15 NIWA Daiki (Gamba Osaka)
I enjoyed playing the match. We played well in the second half, and if we scored, we would've won the match. Speaking of the goal conceded, the team balance wasn't good. I need to take this experience back to my team and take advantage of it. Playing a right back, I think I was able to play well. I will try to go for the upper levels in daily training.
JFA-TV (Japanese version only)
Interview - ENDO Wataru (Shonan Bellmare)
|Fri. 31 July
|Official Practice (Wuhan Sports Center Training Ground1)
|Sat. 1 August
|Sun. 2 August
|vs. Korea DPR
(Wuhan Sports Center Stadium)
|Mon. 3 August
|Tue. 4 August
|Wed. 5 August
|vs. Korea Republic
(Wuhan Sports Center Stadium)
|Thu. 6 August
|Fri. 7 August
|Sat. 8 August
|Sun. 9 August
(Wuhan Sports Center Stadium)
EAFF East Asian Cup 2015
Sun. 2 August - Sun. 9 August
- National Teams 2015/08/09 SAMURAI BLUE prepare for last game against China PR - EAFF East Asian Cup 2015
- National Teams 2015/08/08 SAMURAI BLUE getting ready for final match against China PR two days later in EAFF East Asian Cup
- National Teams 2015/08/07 SAMURAI BLUE regroup for first victory in EAFF East Asian Cup
- National Teams 2015/08/06 SAMURAI BLUE end up with 1-1 draw to Korea Rep. in EAFF East Asian Cup Match 2
- National Teams 2015/08/05 SAMURAI BLUE take final tune-up for Korea Rep. match
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