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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Japan Men's National Soccer Team News

September 8, 2015 - Shinji Kagawa & Shinji Okazaki each score brace in win over Afghanistan
"Japan proved too strong for Afghanistan on Tuesday as the Samurai Blue sealed an emphatic 6-0 win in their latest 2018 FIFA World Cup/2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifier.... Japan started brightly at the Azadi Stadium and were ahead as early as the tenth minute when Shinji Kagawa opened the scoring with a firm drive from the edge of the penalty area. They came close to doubling their lead when Leicester City forward Shinji Okazaki flicked on Kagawa’s corner and the ball flashed across the goalmouth before narrowly eluding Masato Morishige at the far post. The FC Tokyo defender was, however, on target in the 35th minute when he converted Keisuke Honda’s cross after his initial header had been saved by Afghanistan goalkeeper Ovays Azizi. Japan continued their dominance in the second period with Kagawa fired home from a tight angle in the 50th minute and Okazaki opened his own account some seven minutes later. With Afghanistan failing to stem the Japanese tide, Okazaki duly doubled his tally with a neat volley and substitute Takashi Usami set up Honda to register Japan’s sixth and final goal of the game." - AFC

September 3, 2015 - Honda, Yoshida & Kagawa score in win over Cambodia
"Japan recovered from an indifferent start to register their first FIFA World Cup 2018 and AFC Asian Cup 2019 qualifying success on Thursday thanks to a 3-0 win over Cambodia in Saitama. Japan’s victory, courtesy of goals from Keisuke Honda, Maya Yoshida and Shinji Kagawa, breathes much needed life back into a campaign that had sensationally failed to ignite following June’s goalless draw at home to Singapore in their Group E opener." - AFC

August 5, 2015 - Hotaru Yamaguchi scores equalizer in draw with South Korea
"Hotaru Yamaguchi’s first international goal saw Japan draw 1-1 with Korea Republic on Wednesday as the defending champions picked up their first point of the 2015 EAFF (East Asian Football Federation) East Asian Cup. Yamaguchi, who was MVP as Japan won the 2013 EAFF East Asian Cup in Seoul, scored for the first time in 19 appearances with a dipping shot from outside the penalty area with six minutes of the first-half remaining as the Cerezo Osaka midfielder cancelled out Jang Hyun-soo’s maiden goal for Korea Republic." - AFC

June 11, 2015 - Honda, Makino, Okazaki & Haraguchi score in win over Iraq
"Japan put in a dominant display in Yokohama as an impressive first-half showing set them up for a 4-0 friendly win over Iraq.... The hosts began the game on the front foot and were soon ahead when Keisuke Honda broke clear before delivering an assured finish. Tomoaki Makino made it 2-0 in the ninth minute, the defender left all alone at the back post to convert from a corner. Japan dominated for much of the encounter, extending their lead through Shinji Okazaki in the 33rd minute, before substitute Genki Haraguchi produced an excellent run and low finish six minutes from time." - Soccerway

March 31, 2015 - Aoyama, Okazaki, Shibasaki, Usami & Kawamata score in win over Uzbekistan
"Japan eased past Uzbekistan 5-1 on Tuesday to make it two friendly wins out of two for new coach Vahid Halilhodzic.... Toshihiro Aoyama bagged his first international goal – a clinical finish from distance - to set Japan on their way as early as the seventh minute. The 2011 Asian champions upped the tempo after the break and duly doubled their advantage on 54 minutes when Shinji Okazaki, who was also on target against Tunisia, headed home Japan’s second. Gaku Shibasaki made it 3-0 after 79 minutes, before Islom Tuhtahujaev gave Uzbekistan a glimmer of hope by reducing the deficit just three minutes just later. However, further goals from Takashi Usami and Kengo Kawamata saw Japan claim a comprehensive victory to continue the mini revival under Halilhodzic." - AFC

March 27, 2015 - Shinji Okazaki & Keisuke Honda score in win over Tunisia
"Shinji Okazaki and Keisuke Honda came off the bench to score quickfire goals as Japan beat Tunisia 2-0 in their first outing under new coach Vahid Halilhodzic.... Honda and Shinji Kagawa were introduced on the hour mark, quickly followed by Okazaki, and all three made an impact as the Blue Samurai blew out the cobwebs after their Asian Cup flop in January. Honda crossed for Okazaki to head home at the far post on 78 minutes and Japan's blond cult hero stabbed home from close range five minutes later after Kagawa had struck panic into Tunisia's defence." - FIFA

March 19, 2015 - roster named for Tunisia & Uzbekistan friendlies
  • Goalkeepers: Eiji Kawashima (Standard Liege), Masaaki Higashihiguchi (Gamba Osaka), Shusaku Nishikawa (Urawa Reds), Akihiro Hayashi (Sagan Tosu)
  • Defenders: Hiroki Mizumoto (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Yuto Nagatomo (Inter Milan), Tomoaki Makino (Urawa Reds), Masato Morishige (FC Tokyo), Kosuke Ota (FC Tokyo), Atsuto Uchida (Schalke), Maya Yoshida (Southampton), Hiroki Fujiharu (Gamba Osaka), Hiroki Sakai (Hannover), Gotoku Sakai (Stuttgart), Gen Shoji (Kashima Antlers)
  • Midfielders: Yasuyuki Konno (Gamba Osaka), Makoto Hasebe (Eintracht Frankfurt), Toshihiro Aoyama (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund), Hiroshi Kiyotake (Hannover), Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka), Gaku Shibasaki (Kashima Antlers)
  • Forwards: Shinji Okazaki (Mainz), Keisuke Honda (AC Milan), Shinzo Koroki (Urawa Reds), Yu Kobayashi (Kawasaki Frontale), Takashi Inui (Eintracht Frankfurt), Kensuke Nagai (Nagoya Grampus), Yuya Osako (Cologne), Takashi Usami (Gamba Osaka), Yoshinori Muto (FC Tokyo)
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January 20, 2015 - Keisuke Honda & Shinji Kagawa score in win over Jordan
"Keisuke Honda scored for the third consecutive game as defending champions Japan finally confirmed their place in the quarter-finals of the AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 as Tuesday’s 2-0 win over a brave Jordan completed a 100% record in Group D. The four-time winners only needed a point in front of a 25,000 crowd at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium having earlier beaten Palestine and Iraq, but Honda’s 24th minute strike and a late second from Shinji Kagawa saw Javier Aguirre’s side claim the win.... Japan eventually took the lead midway through the first half as Jordan goalkeeper Amer Shafi could only parry Shinji Okazaki’s angled strike from Inui’s clever pass across goal and Honda was on hand to net from a tight angle.... The Japanese made sure of the three points with eight minutes remaining when a cross from substitute Yoshinori Muto found the onrushing Kagawa close to the penalty spot and Shafi was only able to help the first-time strike into the back of the net." - Asian Cup

January 16, 2015 - Keisuke Honda scores in win over Iraq
"Man of the match Keisuke Honda's penalty helped Japan to their second straight AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 Group D victory as the defending champions eked out a 1-0 win over Iraq on Friday. Honda netted from the spot midway through the opening half as Javier Aguirre's side stayed on top of the group with the maximum six points, three points more than Iraq and Jordan.... Aguirre's men managed to put themselves on the scoreboard as Honda was taken down in the area by Ali Adnan. Honda stepped up to the spot himself, converting for his second goal of the tournament to push the holders in front." - AFC

January 12, 2015 - Endo, Okazaki, Honda & Yoshida score in win over Palestine
"Defending AFC Asian Cup champions Japan have defeated tournament newcomers Palestine 4-0 in Newcastle. Yahsuito Endo And Shinji Okazaki both scored early on, before Keisuke Honda gave his side a 3-0 lead before the break when he converted from the penalty spot. Despite going down to ten men when Ahmed Mahajna received a second yellow card, Palestine only conceded one goal in the second half when Mayo Yoshida headed home on 49 minutes." - Asian Cup

January 6, 2015 - Takashi Inui scores brace in win over Lambton Jaffas 
"A second-half blitz secured Japan a resounding 7-0 triumph over the Lambton Jaffas in the Samurai Blue’s final AFC Asian Cup friendly game. The local Newcastle side produced a spirited first-half, conceding only once to a Yashuito Endo penalty, before Japan, one of the Asian Cup favourites, clicked into gear after the break of the hour-long fixture. With coach Javier Aguirre rotating his team from the side that beat Auckland City 2-0 days earlier, it was Japan’s most capped player to open the scoring from the spot following an error from Lambton defender Michael Sessions. Aguirre made two changes at the break introducing Shoya Nakajima and Takashi Inui, with both replacements producing immediate results. Nakajima doubled the lead with his first touch two minutes into the second-half before Gen Shoji and Hiroshi Kiyotake quickly added to the lead. Inui netted a quick fire brace which sandwiched a Yu Kobayashi strike as Japan finished the fixture strongly." - AFC

January 4, 2015 - Yasuhito Endo & Shinji Okazaki score in win over Auckland City FC
Four-time AFC Asian Cup champions Japan have defeated FIFA Club World Cup 2014 semi-finalists Auckland City FC of New Zealand 2-0 in a friendly match in front of a 3,000 strong crowd in Cessnock.... Japan’s onslaught of goal attempts paid off on 33 minutes when Yasuhito Endo took a long-range low shot which deflected into the back of the net.... Despite dominating possession and a barrage of attempts on goal, Japan appeared likely to claim victory by just one goal until Shinji Okazaki’s late strike. The German based attacker was on the receiving end of a well-placed cross which he pounced on to finish in the top right hand corner and subsequently push the final score to 2-0." - AFC

December 28, 2014 - Atsuto Uchida out for Asian Cup"Star defender Atsuto Uchida has been ruled out of the 2015 AFC Asian Cup after succumbing to a long-standing knee injury. Javier Aguirre announced that Uchida was to remain in Germany with his Bundesliga club Schalke 04 in a bid to regain full fitness.... Kashima Antlers defender Naomichi Ueda was called up to replace Uchida and if given the chance by Aguirre will make his debut on Asia's biggest stage in Australia." - Asian Cup 

November 18, 2014 - Yasuyuki Konno & Shinji Okazaki score in win over Australia
"Yasuyuki Konno and Shinji Okazaki scored second-half goals Tuesday to give Japan a 2-1 win over Australia in an Asian Cup warm-up match. Konno headed in at the far post in the 61st minute after the Australia defense had failed to deal with Keisuke Honda's corner from the right. Okazaki scored the second with a flick from Masato Morishige's pass seven minutes later. It was the FSV Mainz striker's 40th goal for his country. Tim Cahill scored a late header for the Australians." - Charlotte Observer
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November 14, 2014 - Takashi Inui scores brace in win over Honduras
"Maya Yoshida scored his third goal for Japan as they beat Honduras 6-0 in a Kirin Cup Challenge friendly on Friday morning. The Saints defender opened the scoring inside ten minutes with a brave header at the back post after a corner had been flicked on into his path. Keisuke Honda made it 2-0 to Japan in the 40th minute, before Yasuhito Endo made it 3-0 on the stroke of half-time to put Japan in complete control. Takashi Inui then made it 4-0 just after the break, having only just come on as a substitute. Inui added the sixth shortly after Yohei Toyoda had made it 5-0." - Saints FC

November 5, 2014 - roster updates
"AC Milan forward Keisuke Honda and Borussia Dortmund midfielder Shinji Kagawa were named in Japan's 23-man squad on Wednesday for home friendlies against Honduras and Australia. Japan's best-known players were joined by recalled veterans Yasuhito Endo, Atsuto Uchida and Yasuyuki Konno, who were all absent when Japan was thrashed 4-0 by Brazil in Singapore last month. Mainz striker Shinji Okazaki and Frankfurt midfielder Makoto Hasebe were also included in a squad heavy on experience." - Yahoo

October 10, 2014 - own goal provides win over Jamaica
"Javier Aguirre claimed his first win as Japan coach with an unconvincing 1-0 home victory over Jamaica on Friday. Aguirre's men struggled to break down the Caribbean nation in Niigata, with the triumph coming courtesy of an own goal from unfortunate Jamaica defender Nyron Nosworthy.... Defender Nosworthy turned into his own net in the 16th minute, although the former Sunderland defender was hardly at fault for a goal that saw him inadvertently make contact with the ball after midfielder Gaku Shibasaki's cross-cum-shot had been smartly kept out by Ryan Thompson." - SoccerWay

October 1, 2014 - roster updates
"Dortmund midfielder Shinji Kagawa and AC Milan's Keisuke Honda are in Japan's 23-man squad for Asian Cup warm-up matches against Jamaica and Brazil. Japan coach Javier Aguirre also called up Mainz striker Shinji Okazaki, Cordoba forward Mike Havenaar, and three uncapped players — J-Leaguers Gen Shoji, Tsukasa Shiotani, and Yu Kobayashi — as he looks for his first win since taking over from Alberto Zaccheroni. Kagawa missed Japan's first two games under Aguirre because of a concussion." - Tri-City Herald

June 6, 2014 - Honda, Kagawa & Okubo score in close win over Zambia
"Zambia gave Japan a fright in Tampa before the Asian champions earned a 4-3 win in their warm-up friendly last night. Japan fell 2-0 behind during the first half, conceding a close-range header from Christopher Katongo and a sweetly-struck 20-yard strike from Nathan Sinkala. Keisuke Honda's penalty cut the deficit and Shinji Kagawa had a stroke of luck for an equaliser when his apparent cross bypassed everyone on its way into the net. Honda prodded Japan in front, only for Zambia's Lubambo Musanda to strike a 25-yard effort that deflected over Shusaku Nishikawa to haul Zambia back to 3-3. Yoshito Okubo pinched a last-gasp winner, showing sharp control to bring down a long pass and composing himself before producing a powerful left-footed finish." - FIFA

June 2, 2014 - Endo, Kagawa & Kakitani score in win over Costa Rica
"Japan's search for a lead striker looks set to continue after their 3-1 victory over Costa Rica in Florida on Monday. Costa Rica weathered a first-half storm in Tampa before taking the lead in the 31st minute through captain Bryan Ruiz and Japan needed strikes from midfielders Yasuhito Endo and Shinji Kagawa after the break to triumph. Yoichiro Kakitani then added a third for Japan in second-half stoppage time with an opportunistic strike at Raymond James Stadium. Japan have scored eight goals in three games so far this year but only three have come from the four strikers coach Alberto Zaccheroni has named in his final 23-man squad for the World Cup. " - Goal

May 27, 2014 - Atsuto Uchida scores in win over Cyprus
"Defender Atsuto Uchida spared Japan's blushes with a 43rd-minute winner as the Asian champions beat Cyprus 1-0 in their final home World Cup warm-up game on Tuesday.... Right-back Uchida broke the deadlock in Saitama when he stabbed home the loose ball after Shinji Kagawa's close-range effort had been blocked, registering only his second goal in 66 internationals. 'It was nice to score coming back from injury,' said Uchida, who celebrated his strike by sprinting to the touchline to hug the Japan coach, Alberto Zaccheroni. 'I didn't know if I would be fit in time,' added Uchida, returning from a lengthy spell out with a thigh problem. 'I really wanted to get on the scoresheet tonight'."- FIFA

May 12, 2014 - World Cup roster named
  • Eiji Kawashima (Standard Liege)
  • Shusaku Nishikawa (Urawa Reds)
  • Shuichi Gonda (FC Tokyo).
  • Masato Morishige (FC Tokyo)
  • Yasuyuki Konno (Gamba Osaka)
  • Yuto Nagatomo (Inter Milan)
  • Maya Yoshida (Southampton)
  • Masahiko Inoha (Jubilo Iwata)
  • Atsuto Uchida (Schalke 04)
  • Hiroki Sakai (Hannover 96)
  • Gotoku Sakai (VfB Stuttgart).
  • Yasuhito Endo (Gamba Osaka)
  • Keisuke Honda (AC Milan)
  • Shinji Kagawa (Manchester United)
  • Makoto Hasebe (FC Nuremberg)
  • Hiroshi Kiyotake (FC Nuremberg)
  • Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka)
  • Toshihiro Aoyama (Sanfrecce Hiroshima)
  • Manabu Saito (Yokohama F. Marinos).
  • Shinji Okazaki (Mainz)
  • Yoichiro Kakitani (Cerezo Osaka)
  • Yuya Osako (TSV Munich 1860)
  • Yoshito Okubo (Kawasaki Frontale)
- NBC Sports

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