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HOME > National Teams 2024 > NEWS > 【Match Report】U-16 Japan National Team claim title with hard-fought win over Senegal in final match - U-16 International Dream Cup 2024 JAPAN


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【Match Report】U-16 Japan National Team claim title with hard-fought win over Senegal in final match - U-16 International Dream Cup 2024 JAPAN

24 June 2024

【Match Report】U-16 Japan National Team claim title with hard-fought win over Senegal in final match - U-16 International Dream Cup 2024 JAPAN

The final day of the U-16 International Dream Cup 2024 JAPAN took place on Sunday 23 June at J-Village Stadium in Fukushima, where the U-16 Japan National Team took on the U-16 Senegal National Team.

U-16 Japan National Team 3-2 (0-1, 3-1) U-16 Senegal National Team

Japan went into the match having won both of their previous matches, while Senegal had won one and lost one. Although Japan were in a position to win the title barring a heavy defeat, head coach HIROYAMA Nozomi urged his players to “fight like it was the final” and shared his determination to “win at all costs, even if it comes down to penalties.”

Speaking about their opponents, coach Hiroyama said: “They are really tough opponents. It goes about saying about their high athleticism, but also the quality of their long balls.” He added: “They have also improved their physical condition throughout the tournament.”

The match was a back-and-forth affair from the outset, but it was Senegal who gradually took control of the tempo. A key moment came in the 37th minute when Senegal went close on the counter-attack, but Japanese goalkeeper NISHIKAWA Genki (Kashiwa Reysol U-18) made a spectacular save to keep the clean sheet intact.

However, the African side grabbed the lead just before half-time when IBRAHIMA SORY SOW's free-kick got past the goalkeeper and into the net. With momentum on their side, Senegal doubled their lead in the opening minutes of the second half when MOUHAMED WAGNE's long-range shot found the back of the net in the 50th minute.

Despite finding themselves in a two-goal deficit, Japan quickly got on the scoresheet in the 54th minute, when YOSHIDA Minato (Kashima Antlers Youth) calmly converted the cross of ASADA Hiroto (Yokohama F.Marinos Youth) from close range to cut the deficit in half.

Determined to win in front of their home crowd, Japan continued to push for an equaliser, which came in the 70th minute when YOKOI Yuya (Gamba Osaka Youth) headed home a corner kick from KANDA Taito (Omiya Ardija U18). With plenty of time remaining for Japan to take the lead, the golden moment arrived in the 80th minute, when NISHIOKA Kento (Jubilo Iwata U-18) headed the cross of TAKEMOTO Shohei (Avispa Fukuoka U-18) to setup a shot for KASAI Mibuki (Shonan Bellmare U-18), who unleashed a volley from close range to put Japan in the lead.

With this goal being the decisive goal, Japan made it three wins in a row to win the tournament. Venezuela finished second, Senegal third and Ukraine fourth. Asada was named MVP of the tournament and Venezuela's Yerwin Antonio SULBARAN LOPEZ was top scorer.

Coach and Players' Comments

HIROYAMA Nozomi, Head Coach
The Senegalese players kicked the ball a lot further and played with a lot more speed than we did. Even though we knew it in our heads, we were still beaten in a lot of situations because it was so different from what we are used to playing against. In that sense, I thought the players coped very well. It was a tough game with the opposition taking the lead. Obviously it would have been ideal for us to take the lead and win the game, but I think we got something out of the game because we were chasing. It was definitely an invaluable experience for the players, giving them the opportunity to learn what we lack as a team and as individuals to compete on the world stage. We are not satisfied with the win, but we hope to use this experience to improve our skills.

GK #1 NISHIKAWA Genki (Kashiwa Reysol U-18)
It was a match that made me realise that I was lacking in all aspects of the game. I definitely need to change the way I prepare for matches and I feel I owe my teammates a lot for this game. It made me want to become a goalkeeper who can help the team win more games. The first goal was a result of a poor choice of play as a team, especially knowing it was in additional time of the first half, but nonetheless, it was simply my mistake. This year we have the Asian qualifiers and to be worthy of wearing the #1 jersey of our generation I need to grow even more, and this tournament served as a stark reminder of that.

DF #15 YOKOI Yuya (Gamba Osaka Youth)
I felt the responsibility of wearing the armband and starting all three games. It was my first time playing against an African side and at times I was overwhelmed by their speed and athleticism, even though I had been told about this in our pre-match meeting. It reminded me that I had to use my head in order to win the ball against them, so I will try to make the most of this experience in the future. My coach at Gamba Osaka Youth has always told me to become a defender that can score goals, so I am really happy that I was able to score today.

MF #19 TAKEMOTO Shohei (Avispa Fukuoka U-18)
From yesterday's training session, I was determined to score a goal that would help the team win. Although I started on the bench, I came on with the intention of changing the dynamic of the game. I wish I could have scored, but I am happy to have been involved in the team's goal. The fact that coach Hiroyama told me that my crosses were one of the team's weapons gave me a lot of confidence and I am happy that I was able to show that in this game. I feel I learned from the Venezuela game and was able to play with more composure today.

U-16 International Dream Cup 2024 JAPAN

Tournament dates: Wed. 19 June - Sun. 23 June 2024
Participating teams: Japan, Senegal, Venezuela, Ukraine
Venue: J-Village Stadium, Fukushima [Free admission to all matches]
Tournament information

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