Mauricio brace give Urawa fifth place in Club World Cup

The fifth place match of the 2017 FIFA Club World Cup took place on Tuesday in UAE, with Urawa Reds winning 3-2 over Morocco’s Wydad Casablanca.

With a markedly different line-up from their opening loss to host representatives Al Jazira, Urawa took the lead in the 18th minute through Mauricio’s long-range effort. 

After conceding an equaliser on a set play just three minutes later, midfielder Yosuke Kashiwagi topped off a series of clever passes with his own strike to make it 2-1.

Mauricio found his second of the day in the 60th minute when he found himself free on a well-designed set play, giving Urawa a 3-1 lead. 

Video review handed Wydad a penalty kick in additional time, but Reda El Hajouj’s converted effort was not enough to deny the Asian champions a win to end their season.


Urawa fall to Al Jazira in Club World Cup quarters

The quarter-finals of the 2017 FIFA Club World Cup took place in the UAE on Saturday night as Asian representatives Urawa Reds fell 1-0 to host representatives Al Jazira.

Urawa were the better side in the first half, setting up several chances on goal. The best may have come in the 28th minutes, when Yuki Muto’s cross found Shinzo Koroki who was unable to steer his shot under the bar.

Shortly into the second half, Al Jazira striker Ali Mabkhout punished Urawa on a counter-attack to score the first and only goal of the match. 

Rafael Silva’s late attempt to equalise struck the post, ending the J.League’s streak of semi-final appearances at two.

Urawa will face Wydad Casablanca, who lost to CONCACAF champions Pachuca in the day’s other quarter-final, on December 12 in a match to determine fifth place.

Samurai Blue

Japan draw Poland, Senegal, Colombia in World Cup

The final draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup took place on Friday evening in Moscow, with Japan being drawn into Group H with Poland, Senegal and Colombia.

The Samurai Blue will open the tournament on June 19 against Colombia before facing Senegal on June 24 and closing out group play on June 28 against Poland.

The complete group draw is as follows:

Group A: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay

Group B: Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran

Group C: France, Australia, Peru, Denmark

Group D: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria

Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia

Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea

Group G: Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England

Group H: Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan


FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2016 match schedule announced

FIFA have announced the schedule for the upcoming FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2016, the December tournament which will see the world’s top club teams once again assemble in Japan for 11 days of exciting competition.

The event will kick off on December 8, with the 2016 MEIJI YASUDA J1 League champions hosting OFC representatives Auckland City at International Stadium Yokohama.

The action then moves to Osaka’s Suita Stadium, which will become the newest FIFA Club World Cup venue by hosting both quarterfinals on December 11 and the semi-final involving the CONMEBOL champions on December 14.

The tournament will then return to International Stadium Yokohama for a December 15 semifinal featuring UEFA champions Real Madrid and the December 18 final.

The draw to determine the seeding of the AFC and CAF champions, as well as CONCACAF champions Club America, will take place on a later date.


Douglas double helps Sanfrecce slay Evergrande

Douglas celebrated a late double as Sanfrecce Hiroshima came from behind to defeat Guangzhou Evergrande 2-1 in the play-off for third place at the Club World Cup on Sunday.

The Japanese champions were able to celebrate in front of a home crowd in Yokohama as they bounced back from their semi-final defeat to River Plate, though things threatened to go wrong at the start.

Paulinho pounced to put Evergrande 1-0 up inside the third minute when Sanfrecce’s defence were unable to clear Li Xuepeng’s quality ball into the box, with the ball pinging around before the ex-Tottenham midfielder headed home.

The opener failed to set the tone for the AFC Champions League winners, however, as Hajime Moriyasu’s men turned up the pressure for the rest of the half, urged on by the crowd.

Things appeared to be going the same way for Sanfrecce as in the semi-final defeat to River, though, as they saw a certain goal cleared off the line, but Douglas was able to restore parity in the second period.

The 27-year-old struck from Yusuke Chajima’s corner in the 70th minute, with the MEIJI YASUDA J1 League second top scorer then clinching the winner by heading in with seven minutes left on the clock to spark celebrations at the final whistle.

Victory ensures Sanfrecce head into Saturday’s Emperor’s Cup quarter-final with FC Tokyo on a high, with the side aiming to secure a domestic double.

In the other match of the day, Barcelona lifted a record third world title by beating River 3-0 in the Club World Cup final.


Douglas delighted with Sanfrecce’s world impact

Douglas was pleased to show off his goalscoring prowess on the world stage, and praised Sanfrecce Hiroshima for seeing off Guangzhou Evergrande for third place at the Club World Cup.

His brace in Sunday’s play-off allowed Hajime Moriyasu’s men to bounce back from going a goal down early on, with Sanfrecce going on to claim a 2-1 win in Yokohama.

And victory came from the side putting to good use the lessons learnt in the semi-final defeat to River Plate according to Douglas, who reveled in putting his side on the world map.

“I didn’t imagine when I came to Sanfrecce Hiroshima that I’d be playing for the third-best team in the world,” the Brazilian said. 

“If you meet good team-mates at the right time, this sort of thing will happen. I’m happy that we’re third best in the world. 

“Coach Moriyasu told me to play directly if I could, and if that was impossible to turn with the ball and create shooting opportunities. I felt like this was any normal game, and I wanted to dedicate all of my strength to helping the team.

“We could have won against River Plate, and that was disappointing. We learned an important lesson about creating chances and needing to finish when we have those chances. 

“But reaching third place is a big deal and will give us confidence. This wasn’t about what I did, it’s about the result we achieved through our unity as a team. 

“But we still have the Emperor’s Cup and we want to win one more title this year.”

The 27-year-old’s goals were already instrumental in lifting Sanfrecce to their third MEIJI YASUDA J1 League title, with his tally of 21 putting him just behind Yoshito Okubo in the top scorer’s charts.


Aoyama says Sanfrecce could have aimed for more

Toshihiro Aoyama expressed his disappointment with Sanfrecce Hiroshima’s third-placed finish at the Club World Cup.

The Japanese champions saw off Chinese counterparts Guangzhou Evergrande 2-1 on Sunday despite going a goal down inside the third minute, roaring back to win through Douglas’ late double. 

But Aoyama was still upset that they missed the chance to face Barcelona in the final after their semi-final loss to River Plate.

“I’m not satisfied with third place,” the captain told reporters after the victory over Luiz Felipe Scolari’s men. “I wanted us to go even further. 

“It was a disappointing tournament. If we’re satisfied with this result, this is as far as we’ll ever go. I’m happy we won the third place match, but I wanted to play in the final. 

“We were able to beat Guangzhou Evergrande, but the AFC Champions League and Club World Cup are two different competitions, and we had home advantage. 

“But we played well even with a busy schedule, and even though we lost in the semi-final we fought until the very end. 

“That’s how we played all season and that’s proof that we can continue to play like that. That’s our strength, and I hope we continue to show it next year.”

Sanfrecce will now turn their attentions to their Emperor’s Cup quarter-final tie with FC Tokyo this Saturday.


Alario header ends Sanfrecce’s CWC final dreams

Sanfrecce Hiroshima narrowly missed out on a spot at the Club World Cup final after River Plate defeated them 1-0 in the semi-finals on Wednesday.

A sole Lucas Alario strike was enough to propel the South American giants to a win over their Japanese counterparts, where a potential clash with European treble winners Barcelona awaits.

Sanfrecce more than held their own in their encounter, with Marcelo Barovero’s outstanding display between the posts just being enough to keep River in the match.

Yusuke Minagawa and Yusuke Chajima both posed a serious threat in the first half whenever Hajime Moriyasu’s men broke forward on the counter-attack, with the pair forcing their opponents’ goalkeeper into several fine stops.

The Argentines, however, picked their moment to strike and Alario capitalised on Takuto Hayashi’s mistake dealing with a free-kick to head into an empty net.

Sanfrecce will now turn their attention to Sunday’s third-place play-off against the losers of Thursday’s match between Barcelona and Guangzhou Evergrande.

The Japanese champions will then have a week to recuperate, before they travel to face FC Tokyo in the Emperor’s Cup quarter-finals.


Credit belongs to all of Sanfrecce, says Shiotani

Tsukasa Shiotani spoke of the renewed confidence Sanfrecce Hiroshima have in themselves, as they gear up for a Club World Cup semi-final clash with River Plate.

In addition to being a pillar in defence for Hajime Moriyasu’s side who have yet to concede, Shiotani has also got up the other end to get on the scoresheet, one each against Auckland City and TP Mazembe.

Despite racking up key goals for his team as they look ahead to Wednesday’s clash with River, Shiotani is keen to share the credit, saying his team-mates deserve equal credit for their climb.

Everyone is contributing to the team and that’s why we’re getting results,” he said. 

“It’s not about who’s doing what, it’s playing as a team that’s gotten us this far. That’s one of our strengths this season, and we have to keep that going.

“More than fatigue I just feel happy that we can play in this great tournament. There are a lot of players who want to play in the FIFA Club World Cup but can’t. 

“I’m incredibly fortunate to have been able to play in this tournament twice.”


Moriyasu confident Sanfrecce can go all the way

After watching Sanfrecce Hiroshima’s 3-0 Club World Cup quarter-final victory over TP Mazembe, manager Hajime Moriyasu is confident his side can find a way past any opponent.

The win over the African champions was preceded by a 2-0 result against New Zealand side Auckland City, with the MEIJI YASUDA J1 League winners setting up an encounter with River Plate in the semi-finals.

And as just one final game to a potential final clash against giants Barcelona beckons, Moriyasu is confident all their signs of progress from the tournament so far bodes well for their chances.

“TP Mazembe are a physically strong team with good technique,” he told reporters on Sunday. 

“We expected this to be a difficult match. In the first half we fell under pressure and gave up many corner kicks, but we were able to endure and switch to an attacking position.

 “River Plate are one of the world’s champion sides, they’re top class in every category. But even on this global stage, we can fight if we play with organisation. 

“Playing against the world’s best players gives us confidence and helps us improve. I think we’ll play the same way against River Plate as we have until now. 

“Playing until the final whistle is part of being a professional. I think our players will show that in the next match. 

“We’ve changed up our lineup all season, and I’ll probably refresh our lineup a little ahead of Wednesday.”


Aoyama: There is no wall to Sanfrecce progress

Toshihiro Aoyama says Sanfrecce Hiroshima’s Club World Cup fate is in their own hands, and does not believe there are any limits to their potential.

The captain has freshly come from winning the MEIJI YASUDA J1 League to guiding his side to a semi-final appearance against River Plate.

And after watching the way Sanfrecce have overcome Auckland City and TP Mazembe, scoring five and conceding none, Aoyama was pleased how his side have expressed themselves so confidently on the world stage.

“We were able to demonstrate our good qualities,” the 29-year-old told reporters. “We played just as we did in the J.League. 

“We came into the match wanting to prevent [TP Mazembe] from playing to their abilities. We knew they were a powerful team and it took us time to adjust to their speed and reach. After we adjusted to that, we didn’t have any problems.

“This wasn’t the wall [we couldn’t move past three years ago when Sanfrecce finished fifth], this was just the beginning. 

“I’m looking forward to tougher opponents, but football is a game of chance and results are everything.  That chance come down to how well you’ve prepared.”


Notsuda, Shibasaki out for Sanfrecce

Sanfrecce Hiroshima on Saturday confirmed Kosei Shibasaki and Gakuto Notsuda will miss the rest of their FIFA Club World Cup campaign through injury.

The key midfield pair picked up the knocks in their 2-0 opening win against Auckland City, with Shibasaki needing three weeks to recover from a posterior cruciate ligament tear.

Notsuda will spend a lengthy two months sidelined on the other hand, after injuring his right medial collateral ligament in the rainy encounter at International Stadium Yokohama.

Both are definitely ruled out for the remainder of Sanfrecce’s Club World Cup campaign, which continues on Sunday when they face African champions TP Mazembe.


Kashiwa and Minagawa delighted with Sanfrecce CWC win

Yoshifumi Kashiwa is delighted that Sanfrecce Hiroshima have been able to make an impact on the world stage, following their 2-0 win against Auckland City in the FIFA Club World Cup.

Hajime Moriyasu’s men saw off their Australian opponents to progress to the quarter-finals of the competition in Japan, where they will face TP Mazembe on Sunday.

And Kashiwa is eager for his team-mates to prove themselves against different opponents and styles, and has called for them to strive for constant improvement in hopes of progressing.

 “It’s good to start a global tournament with a win,” the 28-year-old said after the match. 

“It was a difficult atmosphere and we were still able to get a result, which will help us ahead of the next match. This year we’ve been very good at scoring the second goal and keeping clean sheets.

“[The opponents] are going to become stronger, and we’re ready to see different styles of football than we saw today. [The other teams] will have very high potential and physique, so we have to improve our decision-making.”

Yusuke Minagawa had been used sparingly in Sanfrecce victorious MEIJI YASUDA J1 League campaign but netted the first goal of Sanfrecce’s Club World Cup campaign.

Speaking to reporters later, the striker was overall pleased with his impact, adding: “In any tournament, there’s only the present. I think I did enough as a striker. 

“I think I met expectations with the first goal, but I was disappointed that I couldn’t turn one of the chances after that into a second. We put our training to good use. 

“I’m happy we have matches to play and I’m not here just to gain experience. If I’m out there playing for Hiroshima I have to do my best.”