On Friday 12 October, the SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) faced the Panama National Team in the KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2018 at Denka Big Swan Stadium, Niigata. With the help of goals scored by MINAMINO Takumi (FC Red Bull Salzburg) and ITO Junya (Kashiwa Reysol), who scored in back-to-back matches, the team recorded consecutive victories under Coach MORIYASU Hajime’s new regime.
The starting line-up featured players who started in last month’s Costa Rica match (3-0) where Coach Moriyasu took the helm for the first time, as Minamino and Ito once again took the field, while players who participated in the 2018 FIFA World Cup featured the front line, such as OSAKO Yuya (Werder Bremen) and HARAGUCHI Genki (Hannover 96). TOMIYASU Takehiro (Sint-Truidense V.V.) was named in the defence line and goalkeeper GONDA Shuichi (Sagan Tosu) made his first start since March 2015. With the 19-year-old Tomiyasu starting the match, it marks the first time a teenager has made the national team debut since MIYAICHI Ryo made his debut on May 2012.
Japan started off the match with aggressive pressure applied from their front line as Haraguchi made an interception before sending the ball to SASAKI Sho (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), who was overlapping in the left flank. Ito made an effort to connect with Sasaki’s cross but couldn’t convert the opportunity......
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