New Formation and Reserves Tested by Japan in 5-0 Victory against Myanmar in World Cup Qualifiers

Japan, with a perfect record, has already secured early qualification for the next phase, so these last two games, now against Myanmar in Yangon and on the 11th against Syria in Hiroshima, are just for testing purposes. As a result, Moriyasu fielded a mostly reserve lineup with a new formation featuring three defenders.

Yuta Nakayama, usually the first choice for left-back, was not called up this time and is currently in the market for a new club after the end of his contract with Huddersfield. In his absence, Hiroki Ito typically occupies the position, but he is more of a center-back than a full-back and was placed in the three-man defense alongside captain Shogo Taniguchi and Daiki Hashioka, a right-back by trade who can also play in the center due to his marking and physical presence.

Moriyasu had previously used this three-defender formation in the World Cup, sometimes with Yuto Nagatomo on the left flank, sometimes with Kaoru Mitoma. On this occasion, it was a formation to improve defense against a superior opponent. Now, the same formation has shown flexibility to dominate an inferior opponent as well, exploiting the offensive characteristics of the wingers. Since Keito Nakamura is Mitoma’s immediate backup in the national team, it became clear that he can also fulfill this role.

“I want us to be able to switch between a three-man and four-man backline during games,” Moriyasu said, deciding on the day of the match to use the three-defender system from the start. “We have been using a four-man defense as a base and a three-man line as an alternative, so I decided it would be better for the team to use this option from the beginning instead of changing during the game,” the Blue Samurai coach added.

Myanmar, at the bottom of the group with only one point, still had mathematical chances to advance to the next phase, but it quickly became clear that they were not realistic and it turned into a one-sided game. Without much effort, Japan scored two goals in the first half and three more in the second, repeating the scoreline of the first leg in November. In addition to Nakamura, Koki Ogawa also stood out with two goals and an assist. Ogawa comes from a successful Dutch Eredivisie season, where he scored 11 goals for NEC Nijmegen, emerging as a new option for the striker position.

In a one-sided affair, Japan cruised to a 5-0 victory over Myanmar at Thuwunna Stadium in Yangon. Keito Nakamura, Ritsu Doan, and Koki Ogawa were among the goalscorers for the Blue Samurai.

Hajime Moriyasu is a Japanese football manager and former player. He was born on August 23, 1968, in Kakegawa, Shizuoka, Japan. Moriyasu had a successful playing career, mainly with Sanfrecce Hiroshima, before transitioning into coaching. As a manager, he has led Japan to multiple victories and continues to make strides in the world of football.