Chiba – Japan put on a dominating display against Mongolia on Tuesday night in Chiba, netting five goals in the first half and nine in the second on the way to a 14-0 win that all but guaranteed advancement to the next round of World Cup qualifying.
Due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions preventing the game from being held in Mongolia, the game took place behind closed doors at Fukuda Denshi Arena, with Japan designated as the away team.
The unusual setting proved to be of little concern to Hajime Moriyasu’s men, who found their way onto the scoreboard through Takumi Minamino’s 13th-minute grounder and were rarely troubled by Mongolia’s spirited attempts to press forward on the attack.
“The players were focused on what they could accomplish rather than thinking about their opponent,” Moriyasu said after the result, which came one goal short of matching Japan’s largest-ever victory against the Philippines in 1967. “In the middle of the game we changed our system, and I’m glad the players who came on for the first time did so well.”
Minamino, who was frustrated after failing to convert any of several good chances in Japan’s 3-0 friendly win over South Korea on Thursday, extended his scoring streak to five straight World Cup qualifiers, becoming the first Japanese player to reach that mark since Keisuke Honda.
Daichi Kamada, Yuya Osako and Hidemasa Morita all netted goals of their own in the first half, while Ken Matsubara’s cross was deflected in by a Mongolian defender for an own goal in the 39th minute.
Mongolia’s man of the match was undoubtedly goalkeeper Monkh-Erdene Enkhtaivan, who delivered a number of highlight-worthy saves.
But the 25-year-old, who plies his trade for Ulaanbaatar-based Athletic 220, was no match for Japan’s mostly Europe-based squad, which reached double digits after 80 minutes and plowed to 14 by the final whistle. Junya Ito, Kyogo Furuhashi and national team debutant Sho Inagaki netted braces, while Osako closed out his hat trick with the team’s 13th goal and Takuma Asano also found the back of the net.
Moriyasu described the international break, in which Japan’s under-24 players recorded a 1-0 defeat and a 3-0 victory against their Argentina counterparts, as a success that had led to “lots of good discoveries” in his national team player pool.
“I think the performances of our J. League players will boost Japanese soccer’s confidence, and I hope they’ll all want to return to their teams and keep improving. When their teammates see them I hope they’ll also want to level up,” Moriyasu said.
The result leaves the Samurai Blue at the top of Group F with 15 points from five games and 27 goals scored to none conceded. Japan will host the group’s remaining six fixtures, including games against Myanmar, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, in a centralized format in June.
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