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HOME > National Teams > U-23 2024 > AFC U23 Asian Cup Qatar 2024™ TOP > NEWS > 【Match Report】U-23 Japan National Team win first group-stage match despite playing with 10 men following first-half sent-off - AFC U23 Asian Cup Qatar 2024™


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【Match Report】U-23 Japan National Team win first group-stage match despite playing with 10 men following first-half sent-off - AFC U23 Asian Cup Qatar 2024™

17 April 2024

【Match Report】U-23 Japan National Team win first group-stage match despite playing with 10 men following first-half sent-off - AFC U23 Asian Cup Qatar 2024™

The U-23 Japan National Team faced the U-23 China PR National Team in their first group stage match of the AFC U23 Asian Cup Qatar 2024™ at Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium on Tuesday 16 April.

Japan started with KOKUBO Leo Brian (SL Benfica) in goal and a backline of NISHIO Ryuya (Cerezo Osaka), SEKINE Hiroki (Kashiwa Reysol), TAKAI Kota (Kawasaki Frontale) and UCHINO Takashi (Fortuna Dusseldorf). YAMAMOTO Rihito (Sint-Truidense VV), FUJITA Joel Chima (Sint-Truidense VV) and MATSUKI Kuryu (FC Tokyo) were placed in midfield, while YAMADA Fuki (Tokyo Verdy) and HIRAKAWA Yu (FC Machida Zelvia) were deployed on the flanks, with HOSOYA Mao (Kashiwa Reysol) playing as a central striker.

With a ticket to the Olympics on the line, the match kicked off in a tense atmosphere, but the Japanese players showed great aggression from the outset to put China PR under pressure.

The opening goal came in the eighth minute when Sekine entered the opposing penalty area on right side before passing the ball to Yamada, who delivered a in-swinging cross to set up the goal of Matsuki, a goal in which the midfielder later reflected, “I was able to get in between the defenders well.”

Despite an ideal start, things took a turn for the worse for Japan when Nishio was shown a straight red card for elbowing an opponent. With the numerical advantage on the pitch, China PR began to fight back, with TAO Qianglong's 38th-minute shot from outside the area deflecting off the crossbar and AIFEIERDING Aisikaer's 42nd-minute close-range header being saved by Kokubo.

As Matsuki later recalled, "our priority was not to concede a goal", Japan made adjustments to their defence in the second half. The players ran hard to compensate for their numerical disadvantage and showed great tenacity against the opposition's set pieces, something the team had spent a lot of time training on. Despite a late surge from China PR, Japan managed to hold on to their one-goal lead and secure three points from their first match of the tournament.

After the match, coach OIWA Go praised his players, saying, "Although it was a difficult match, the players showed great flexibility to make adjustments," and continued, "We will continue to fight with all 23 players." The team will next face the UAE U-23 National Team on Friday 19 April.

Coaches and Players' Comments

OIWA Go, Head Coach of U-23 Japan National Team
The players fought really well through the difficult times in the first half, including the long additional time. At half-time we made adjustments to keep the pressure on the opposition. We had a lot of plans for this game, but we had to make a lot of decisions on the fly. It was great that we were able to score the opening goal from a play we had been working on in training.

GK #1 KOKUBO Leo Brian (SL Benfica/Portugal)
We were down to 10 men, but everyone filled Nishio's hole, and we managed to finish the game without conceding a goal. I feel like I was able to help the team a little bit as a goalkeeper. The whole goalkeeping group is working hard together, pushing each other, so the result would have been the same if either of the other two goalkeepers had been on the pitch. We will continue to help the team as a goalkeeping group.

DF #4 SEKINE Hiroki (Kashiwa Reysol)
I don't have much international experience, so it was a great experience for me to play in a match like this today. I really didn't expect the match to go like this. But everyone worked hard in the circumstances, and I think I made the most of my height advantage. To be honest, it was a difficult game, but everyone kept encouraging each other to fight through the tough times and it was a game that made me think that we are really becoming a very good team.

MF #17 MATSUKI Kuryu (FC Tokyo)
I am really happy that we scored early today. We were prepared for games like this, so we weren't too worried about being a man down. (Reflecting on the goal) I knew how good Yamada is at cutting inside, so I made sure I positioned myself between the defenders. The delivery was perfect, so I just had to make sure where the goalkeeper was and make good contact with the ball.

YouTube(AFC):#AFCU23 | Group B : Japan 1 - 0 China PR

AFC U23 Asian Cup Qatar 2024™

Tournament dates: Mon. 15 April - Fri. 3 May 2024

Group stage
1st match: Tue. 16 April, ◯1-0 vs China PR
2nd match: Sat. 20 April, 0:30 vs UAE
3rd match: Mon. 22 April, 22:00 vs Korea Republic
*Kick-off time listed in Japan time

Tournament information

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