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HOME > SAMURAI BLUE > ASIAN QUALIFIERS - ROAD TO RUSSIA [3/23] TOP > NEWS > SAMURAI BLUE outplay UAE in convincing win at 6th match of Asian Final Qualifiers (Road to Russia)


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SAMURAI BLUE outplay UAE in convincing win at 6th match of Asian Final Qualifiers (Road to Russia)

24 March 2017

SAMURAI BLUE outplay UAE in convincing win at 6th match of Asian Final Qualifiers (Road to Russia)

On Thursday 23 March, SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) took on United Arab Emirates (UAE) at their group B’s sixth match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Asian Final Qualifiers held in Al Ain, UAE. As one goal each by forward KUBO Yuya (KAA Gent / Belgium) and midfielder KONNO Yasuyuki (Gamba Osaka) helped Japan defeat UAE 2-0, Japan piled up points up to 13 now with four wins, one loss and one draw.

Match Details

Since group leaders Saudi Arabia also recorded a 3-0 victory over Thailand, Japan are currently at the second place, only trailing the leaders by goal difference. Third-placed Australia who drew to Iraq 1-1 are with 10 points, three behind Japan. UAE sit at fourth with nine points followed by Iraq with four and Thailand with one.

While missing the captain and defensive midfielder HASEBE Makoto (Eintracht Frankfurt / Germany), Japan’s boss Vahid HALILHODZIC turned to Konno. As he was assigned with an offensive midfielder role alongside KAGAWA Shinji (Borussia Dortmund / Germany), midfielder YAMAGUCHI Hotaru was given the anchor position. Kubo and HARAGUCHI Genki (Hertha BSC Berlin/Germany) took the right and left forward spot respectively, supporting the lone striker OSAKO Yuya (1.FC Koeln/Germany).

Against the opponents to whom they lost 2-1 at home at the opening match of this final qualifying round in last September, Japan this time showed outstanding focus and quick transitions between offence and defence in the beginning. Defence was effective while aggressive attacks were on full display.

The first goal was scored in the 14th minute. Kagawa gave the ball to defender SAKAI Hiroki (Olympique de Marseille / France) on the right, who fed it to Kubo running toward the space behind opposing defenders. Despite unfavourable angle to work with, Kubo’s right-footed strike found the back of the net and gave him the first career national team goal in his third appearance.

UAE also took advantage of their speed in their counter-attacks as midfielder OMAR ABDULRAHMAN mainly led the offence. In the 20th minute, forward ALI AHMED MABKHOUT had a one-on-one situation against Japan’s goalkeeper KAWASHIMA Eiji (Football Club de Metz / France).

Kawashima, however, despite defending Japan’s goal for the first time since June last year, managed to defend the face-off. He also stopped a close-range shot by Abdulrahman successfully in the 33rd minute.

Japan kept attempting to extend the lead. Sakai Hiroki fired from long distance in the 31st minute and a moment before the end of the first half it was by Haraguchi’s penetration from the left to the middle. At the beginning of the second half, Kagawa struck his own from the right. Then the efforts came to fruition six minutes into the latter half. Kubo took the ball up on the right and sent a cross ball to Konno on the opposite side, who beautifully received it and put it into the goal with his right foot.

Moments before Japan’s second goal, UAE tried their attacks as well. Midfielder ISMAIL AL HAMMADI met a left cross in front of goal, and in the 49th minute midfielder ABDELAZIZ SANQOUR attempted his own shot right in the middle a minute later. But those attempts were halted mainly because of the hard work of Japan’s defence line led by the captain on this day YOSHIDA Maya (Southampton FC / England).

In the 60th minute, Osako aimed for another goal for the team with his header off a cross by defender NAGATOMO Yuto (FC Internazionale Milano / Italy), and in the 73rd minute one more Osako’s shot was set up by substitute midfielder KURATA Shu. Forward OKAZAKI Shinji (Leicester City Football Club/England), who came off the bench to replace Osako, repeatedly fired shots late in the match to keep the offensive momentum until the last minute.

Japan’s next contest will be against Thailand on Tuesday 28 March at Saitama Stadium 2002.

Coaches' and Players' Comments

Vahid HALILHODZIC, Coach, SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team)
It was a very beautiful win by the Japan national team. I think Japan showed much higher level of football. We had a few of a little dangerous moments, but my players controlled it very well and dealt with it by making sure to follow my tactical advice. That was a very important point for us. We proved that we are capable of controlling a match on the road. I want to congratulate my players and I am proud of them. I also want to congratulate the UAE national team who played very good football. Today we needed tough and mentally-poised players. We needed experience. Kawashima and Konno both played perfect game. We have to win (next) Thailand match, otherwise this win against UAE will turn out to be meaningless. We will work hard and get ourselves prepared. If we make good preparations to win every time and we keep doing it, the gate to the World Cup will open.

FW #14 KUBO Yuya (KAA Gent/Belgium)
(With one goal and one assist) I feel that I succeeded in helping my team win for the first time. After scoring one goal, we had a long stretch of getting pushed back. But it was good that we scored one more at the beginning of the second half. I could see Konno so it was good that I could make a good pass. I am one of the younger players in this group, so I wanted to show my aggressiveness. If I can show more of the offensive side of my game, it will help myself get into the flow of matches. So I want to show more of that.

MF #17 KONNO Yasuyuki (Gamba Osaka)
It was a different position from the one I play with Gamba, so it was a little concerning before the match. But once it started, our pressing worked and we were able to take the ball right after Omar (Abdulrahman) sent passes. We started off well and it was good. On this national team, there are many players I haven’t played with at all, and it’s difficult. But I just kept telling myself to show what I can do, such as making simple plays like run a lot and stop the opponent in front of me.

GK #1 KAWASHIMA Eiji (Football Club de Metz/France)
It was like we wanted to show on the pitch with no hesitation what we were supposed to do and what we had done. I felt that it needs a lot of courage out of our coach to play somebody, for this important match, who doesn’t play a lot recently. So I told myself that I would never let him down. (Coach Halilhodzic) Said to me “Show your experience on the pitch.” The team can grow when anybody on the squad can come on and perform. In that sense, today’s result will add up confidence for us.

Mahdi Ali Hassan, Coach, UAE National Team
I would like to congratulate Japan. It was a difficult match today. We dominated it most of the time and created many chances in the first half in vain. There were chances in the second half as well but we couldn’t materialise them, while Japan scored two goals with two attacks. I want to thank everybody for working hard in difficult situations. We failed to get three points, but this doesn’t eliminate us from the World Cup qualification. We want to achieve our goal by winning all the matches left.


Sun. 19 March PM Training
Mon. 20 March PM Training
Tue. 21 March PM Training
Wed. 22 March TBC Official Conference (TBC)
Official Training (Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium)*
Thu. 23 March 2-0 ASIAN QUALIFIERS vs UAE National Team
(Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium)
Fri. 24 March  PM Training
Sat. 25 March PM Training
Sun. 26 March PM Training
Mon. 27 March TBC Official Conference (Saitama Stadium 2002)
Official Training (Saitama Stadium 2002)*
Tue. 28 March 19:35  ASIAN QUALIFIERS vs Thailand National Team
(Saitama Stadium 2002)

*Open to the media for the first 15min.
*The schedule is subject to change due to the team condition, the weather, etc.


2017-3-23 (Thu.) Local Time 19:30 (Japan Time 24:30) kick off (estimated time)
Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium
UAE National Team vs SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team)
More Information

2017-3-28 (Tue.) 19:35 kick off (estimated time)
Saitama Stadium 2002
SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) vs Thailand National Team
More Information


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