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HOME > SAMURAI BLUE > NEWS > 【Match Report】SAMURAI BLUE start off qualifiers with a 5-0 victory over Myanmar - FIFA World Cup 26™ / AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027™ Preliminary Joint Qualification


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【Match Report】SAMURAI BLUE start off qualifiers with a 5-0 victory over Myanmar - FIFA World Cup 26™ / AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027™ Preliminary Joint Qualification

17 November 2023

【Match Report】SAMURAI BLUE start off qualifiers with a 5-0 victory over Myanmar - FIFA World Cup 26™ / AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027™ Preliminary Joint Qualification

On Thursday, 16 November, the SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) played their first match of the FIFA World Cup 26™ / AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027™ Preliminary Joint Qualification at Panasonic Stadium Suita in Osaka, where they defeated the Myanmar National Team 5-0.

Seeking to qualify for their eighth consecutive FIFA World Cup™, Japan started with OSAKO Keisuke (Sanfrecce Hiroshima) in goal and a back line of MAIKUMA Seiya (Cerezo Osaka), TANIGUCHI Shogo (Al-Rayyan SC), MACHIDA Koki (Royale Union Saint-Gilloise), and NAKAYAMA Yuta (Huddersfield Town AFC). TANAKA Ao (Fortuna Dusseldorf) anchored the midfield while KAMADA Daichi (SS Lazio) and MINAMINO Takumi (AS Monaco) were positioned inside, with SOMA Yuki (Casa Pia AC) and DOAN Ritsu (SC Freiburg) on the flanks. UEDA Ayase (Feyenoord) was named as the centre forward in a 4-3-3 formation.

Myanmar, ranked 158th in the FIFA rankings against 18th-ranked Japan, fielded a five-man backline instead of the four-man formation used in their 5-1 aggregate win over Macau in the first round, and played with more men in front of goal, sometimes as many as seven, but Japan dominated possession from the outset and overwhelmed their opponents.

Japan opened the scoring in the 11th minute when Ueda headed home Minamino's lobbing pass. Kamada made it 2-0 in the 28th minute when the midfielder struck a left-footed shot into the corner of the net.

At the end of the first half, Doan sent a pass into the box to set up Ueda, who calmly slotted the ball into the net to give Japan a 3-0 lead at half-time.

Japan switched to a 4-2-3-1 formation with the introduction of WATANABE Tsuyoshi (KAA Gent) and SANO Kaishu (Kashima Antlers) at half-time. For Watanabe, this was his first senior cap since December 2019, while Sano was making his senior debut.

With momentum on their side, Japan continued to dictate the pace in the second half. The fourth goal came in the 50th minute, when Minamino floated a pass into the box to setup Ueda’s goal. For Ueda, this was his first hat-trick with the national team, and the striker was also named the player of the match.

Leading by four goals, coach MORIYASU Hajime brought on HOSOYA Mao (Kashiwa Reysol) and MORITA Hidemasa (Sporting CP) off the bench in the 67th minute, before making a goalkeeping change in the 81st minute to bring on MAEKAWA Daiya (Vissel Kobe), the son of former national team goalkeeper MAEKAWA Kazuya.

Doan, who led the team with six shots taken, including a 52nd minute effort that hit the crossbar, scored Japan's fifth goal in the 86th minute when he superbly controlled Morita's pass before unleashing a left-footed shot that found the back of the net.

Japan outshot Myanmar 24-0 and only conceded one corner kick in the entire match. The win extended Japan's winning streak to seven matches, dating back to 15 June when they defeated El Salvador 6-0 in the KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2023.

The SAMURAI BLUE will now play their second match against Syria on Tuesday, 21 November. Their next match will be played in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, due to the domestic political situation in Syria.

On this day, Syria defeated DPR Korea 1-0 in Jeddah. As a result, Japan and Syria are tied in points, with Japan leading Group B on goal difference, followed by Syria, DPR Korea, and Myanmar.

Korea Republic beat Singapore 5-0 in Group C, Iran beat Hong Kong China 4-0 in Group E and Saudi Arabia beat Pakistan 4-0 in Group G, all at home. The highest-scoring match was in Group I, where Australia thrashed Bangladesh 7-0.

The FIFA World Cup™ will increase the number of competing nations from 32 to 48 starting in 2026, and the number of places allocated to Asia will also be increased to 8.5. In the second round of the AFC qualifiers, 36 teams are divided into nine groups and play each other home and away until June next year. The nine group winners and group runners-up will progress to the third round and automatically qualify for the AFC Asian Cup. The third round begins in September next year.

Coaches and Players' Comments

MORIYASU Hajime, Head Coach of SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team)
We knew it was going to be a tough game because it was the first game of the qualifiers and also because our opponents were very well prepared for us. It would have been a much more difficult game had we not scored first, but the players showed great aggression to challenge and score. They showed a willingness to pick up the tempo, aggressive passing and creativity to score goals. We also did a great job of picking apart the opposing defence to score the first goal. Knowing that our opponents were going to be very defensive, we all shared the same vision of applying pressure as a unit.

At half-time, I told my players that even though we were three goals up, we would continue to be aggressive and try to score more goals. No matter who we play, we have to keep challenging ourselves and remember what our ultimate goal is. With that in mind, it was great to see the players do their best to execute our game plan and push themselves to the limit. Every single player did what was asked of them and that is what we need to do as a team to move forward.

GK #1 MAEKAWA Daiya (Vissel Kobe)
Although I didn't touch the ball, there were still plenty of opportunities to contribute to the team, so I concentrated on doing what I could to keep the clean sheet. In terms of risk management, I had to be prepared for any unexpected accidents, so I made a conscious effort to communicate with my teammates. I have a desire to help the team win games by stopping shots, but the team winning is the most important thing, so I am happy to be a part of that. I have always aspired to be on this stage, so I will continue to do my best to be a mainstay of the team.

DF #3 TANIGUCHI Shogo (Al-Rayyan SC/Qatar)
Given that this is a World Cup qualifier, it was definitely an important step for us to get off to a good start with a solid win at home and three points. No matter who we played or what kind of game it was, our first priority was to win, and I think we were very focused on that. As a centre-back, I made a conscious effort to keep my position high so that Kamada and Minamino didn't have to track back too often. It wasn't the first time I'd played with Machida, so we knew how each other played. We always talked to each other to make sure we were on the same page about whether we were going to pass or carry the ball ourselves.

MF/FW #7 SANO Kaishu (Kashima Antlers)
I was not so nervous, and I was ready for the challenge, so although I made some mistakes, I think it was a positive step for the future. I think my strength lies in my ability to win the ball, so I did my best to give the team some momentum by challenging for the ball. I know I still have a long way to go, but I am quite happy with this result. There were scenes where I felt I could have scored, so that is an aspect I need to improve on. I also need to improve the quality of my combinations with my teammates. It was difficult to play against a very defensive opponent, but it was great to see that we were able to score goals through our individual talents. I will continue to do my best to link up with my teammates.

MF/FW # 8 KAMADA Daichi (SS Lazio/Italy)
Although it was a very difficult game, I am happy that we were able to win. We knew it was going to be like this going into the game. It is a different kind of challenge than when we play the top countries, but every single player did a great job of doing what was asked of them, especially in terms of transitioning and going forward to score more goals when we were up. With our opponents dropping back, I was looking for opportunities to shoot from distance, so I was happy to get the goal. We showed that we can score goals no matter who we play. I am happy with our overall performance, both as a team and as individuals.

MF/FW #9 UEDA Ayase (Feyenoord/Netherlands)
I am very happy with the result, both as an individual and as a team, but most of all I am relieved that the team has started the qualifiers with a win. Getting the first goal early in the game was crucial against an opponent like that, so I am glad I was able to score. Throughout the game, I made a conscious effort to create space behind the opposition and be present to receive the ball. The first goal came from a great assist, so I didn’t have to do much. The second goal came from a play I had been talking about with Doan. I was able to use my strengths in each goal, so they were all good goals.

MF/FW #10 DOAN Ritsu (SC Freiburg/Germany)
I was constantly seeking for my opportunity to score, so I would’ve been disappointed if I’d come empty-handed. Morita provided me with a great assist, especially knowing how the game was going. Any player could have let his guard down in that situation, so it really shows how valuable he is to the team. The assist I gave Ueda was a pass that brought out the best in him, and I feel I can improve the combinations with him in the future. The opposition played as we expected, but we still have a lot of room for improvement, both as a team and as individuals. Personally, I feel I lacked quality in the final third. I tried to keep my game simple in the second half and it worked. As our coach said, we need to get the basics right. We need to raise our standards and keep striving for a higher level.

MF/FW #13 MINAMINO Takumi (AS Monaco/France)
Our first priority was to win at home, so I am happy that we managed to do that. With our opponents sitting deep in their own half, it was difficult to make short passes through the crowd, so I made a conscious effort to lift the ball when I played the final pass to Ueda. We know that we still have a long way to go in these qualifiers, and we also know that we will be expected to win these games in the second round. However, we are at a stage where we need to set ourselves higher standards and evaluate our abilities. In that sense, even though we won today's game, we still need to improve in a number of areas.

Michael FEICHTENBEINER, Head Coach of Myanmar National Team
We didn't think we could win against Japan, so we concentrated on defence today and tried to avoid another 0-10 defeat. We lost 0-5 against one of the top teams, but our players gave their best against an opponent of a different level. So even though we lost the game, I am happy with our performance and proud of my players.

FIFA World Cup 26™ / AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027™
Preliminary Joint Qualification - Round 2

Fixture: SAMURAI BLUE vs Myanmar National Team
Date: Thu. 16 November 2023, 19:00
Venue: Panasonic Stadium Suita (Osaka)
Tournament information

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