On Sunday 9 June, the SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) faced the El Salvador National Team in the KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2019 held at Hitomebore Stadium Miyagi. The team earned a 2-0 victory, thanks to the brace scored by NAGAI Kensuke (F.C. Tokyo), and the 18-year-old phenom, KUBO Takefusa (F.C. Tokyo) made his national team debut as a late substitute.
With the qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup 2022 scheduled in November, coach MORIYASU Hajime once again tried out the three-back formation, after implementing the new system for the first time in the match against Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday 5. The starting line-up saw six changes from their previous match, as the two newly appointed wingbacks, HARAGUCHI Genki (Hannover 96) and ITO Junya (K.R.C. Genk) showed great speed at the flanks to combine with the three attacking players, Nagai, MINAMINO Takumi (FC Red Bull Salzburg), and DOAN Ritsu (FC Groningen) to create opportunities.
In the 19th minute, defender TOMIYASU Takehiro (Sint-Truidense V.V.) delivered a through ball into the open space behind the opposing defence line, allowing Nagai to break into the penalty box. After shaking off two defenders with a cut back, Nagai struck a shot with his left foot to score his first ever goal with the national team, giving Japan a 1-0 lead. Another opportunity was created in the 35th minute, when the ball was connected through HASHIMOTO Kento (F.C. Tokyo) and Minamino, before the ball found Nagai, but this time his attempt was saved by the opposing goalkeeper. Two minutes later, Minamino struck a header off a cross delivered by KOBAYASHI Yuki (SC Heerenveen) from the left side, but his effort was also saved by the goalkeeper......
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