On the 17th, the U-17 Japan National Team played the third group stage match of the FIFA U-17 World Cup Indonesia 2023 against the U-17 Senegal National Team at Si Jalak Harupat Stadium in Bandung, Indonesia.
African champions Senegal have won two games so far. Prior to this match, they had already secured their place in the group stage. On the other hand, Japan has one win and one loss so far. A draw or better would determine the team’s advancement to the group stage, and we entered the match with the mindset that we were in a “game situation where we couldn’t afford to lose” (manager Yoshiro Moriyama).
Japan’s starting lineup includes goalkeeper Wataru Goto (FC Tokyo U-18), defenders Shotaro Shibata (Kawasaki Frontale U-18), Keita Kosugi (Shonan Bellmare U-18), and Kaidai Tsuchiya (Kawasaki Frontale U-18). -18), Kotaro Honda (Shonan Bellmare U-18), midfielders include Ryunosuke Yada (Shimizu S-Pulse Youth), who will be starting for the first time, Yotaro Nakajima (Sanfrecce Hiroshima FC Youth), and Yuki Yoshinaga (Kamimura Gakuen). High School), Ryunosuke Sato (FC Tokyo), and Tokuda Homare (Kashima Antlers Youth) and Airen Inoue (Sanfrecce Hiroshima FC Youth) formed a team up front.
In the previous two games, the first half was tough as Coach Moriyama said, “Japanese players were under pressure that they would never feel in regular domestic games.” This time, our opponent, Senegal, entered the match with more caution, as Coach Moriyama positioned them as, “In terms of speed, they are at a level that they have never experienced before, and if we compete with them, we won’t be able to beat them” (Coach Moriyama).
“First of all, the game plan was to go 0-0,” defender Shibata said, reflecting on the second game against Argentina, where they conceded two goals early, and “If we scored one goal first, Coach Moriyama said that Senegal is good at counter-attacks, and that’s the key to their success, so the first half was a battle that focused more on defense than usual.
“The players may have been stressed out by being patient going into the match, but they showed a high level of tactical execution ability.”
As coach Moriyama reflected, especially in the first half, instead of blindly trying to steal the ball from the front, the team focused on set defense and tenaciously responded to Senegal’s offensive attacks. “It’s not easy to hold Senegal to zero, but they showed the attitude they’ve learned to concentrate, work hard, and put their bodies on the line at the end.” (Coach Moriyama) will return to 0-0 as planned.
In the 55th minute of the second half, midfielder Yamamoto Takehiro (Tokyo Verdy Youth) and forward Takaoka Reisou (Nissho Gakuen High School) were brought on. We will strengthen our offensive by making use of the individuality of these two players. And in the 62nd minute, that attitude paid off.
Takaoka, who said, “I had good positioning,” headed a cross ball from Shibata who ran up the right side. Senegal’s defender, who has a lot of height, turned into a ball watcher in response to the cross, but Takaoka “got in behind” and scored a stunning goal.
Furthermore, in the 72nd minute, Takaoka took advantage of the moment when the passing speed of the opposing defender slowed down and pressed the goalkeeper to steal the ball and play it straight into the empty goal for an additional point.
After that, Senegal, hoping to take the lead, launched a fierce counterattack, but goalkeeper Goto’s repeated good defense prevented them from allowing a goal. Each of the DF players showed tenacity without panicking, and brilliantly shut out the attack of the African champions. It was a 2-0 victory.
With this, Japan passed the group stage in 3rd place with 2 wins and 1 loss. After traveling to Surakarta, they will play against Spain, the 1st place in Group B, in the round of 16 of the knockout stage from 21:00 Japan time on the 20th.
Director Yoshiro Moriyama
Our opponent was Senegal, who had a powerful attack that could knock us out in one shot, so we had to be patient as the match progressed. I think the players did a great job of following the plan. There were really three opponents in the group stage of this tournament, and we were competing against opponents with completely different characters. I think I got a lot of experience from that, so these three games made me feel like I’ve made a lot of progress.
DF #17 Shotaro Shibata (Kawasaki Frontale U-18)
I was happy to be able to assist Takaoka, who is in the same room as me, for his goal. When I practiced after coming here, I felt like the crosses weren’t hitting my feet, but gradually the feeling started to match. I really didn’t want to finish here and go home, so I’m relieved that we’re connected to the next thing, and I also feel like, “This is where it all starts.”
MF #13 Yuki Yoshinaga (Kamimura Gakuen High School)
It could have been our last match, but it was really great to see everyone compete and play a great match. Today, in the second half, I had to cover for left back Kosugi, so I was conscious of playing in a downhill position in order to defend well. It was a game where how well I could run for the team was important, and I think I was able to make a small contribution.
FW #11 Rei Takaoka (Nissho Gakuen High School)
For the first goal, Shibata’s cross ball was good, so all I had to do was hit it. The scene where we pressed for the second goal was my weapon, so I’m glad that I was able to be aggressive from the front and that led to the goal. In our first match against Poland, we were able to score in a good manner, which gave us confidence, and then we were able to score against Argentina, and today we were able to score again, which gave us confidence.
FIFA U-17 World Cup Indonesia 2023
Tournament period: November 10, 2023 (Friday) – December 2, 2023 (Saturday)
Click here for tournament information