MX23RW : Wednesday, September 22 07:24:52| >> :600:4070750:4070750:
Jul 31, 2021 at 10am UK at Kashima Soccer Stadium
Japan U23sJapan Under-23s
N.Zealand U23sNew Zealand Under-23s

Tomiyasu (89'), Miyoshi (114')

Bell (19'), Stensness (55'), Garbett (64'), Cacace (71')
Japan U23s win 4-2 on penalties

Preview: Japan Under-23s vs. New Zealand Under-23s - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Olympic Games Men's Football clash between Japan Under-23s and New Zealand Under-23s, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Hosts Japan Under-23s continue their quest for a medal at their home tournament when they face New Zealand Under-23s on Saturday in the quarter-finals of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Japan maintained a 100% record in Group A and they will come up against a New Zealand side who just edged out Romania on goal difference to finish second in Group B.

Match preview

Takefusa Kubo of Japan celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on July 22, 2021© Reuters

Hajime Moriyasu's side opened their Olympics campaign with a 1-0 win over South Africa at the Ajinomoto Stadium thanks to a 71st-minute strike from Real Madrid's Takefusa Kubo, in a game which the home team mainly dominated.

Goalkeeper Kosei Tani was unable to keep a clean sheet in the second group game when Mexico's Roberto Alvarado scored a late consolation goal, after Kubo and Ritsu Doan had given Japan a two-goal lead at half time.

With six points on the board, Japan had one foot in the knockout rounds going into the final group game against France, but complacency did not play a factor in the result of that game which Japan ran riot in.

First half goals from Kubo and Hiroki Sakai gave Moriyasu's side a comfortable 2-0 lead at half time, which was extended by Koji Miyoshi and Daizen Maeda in the final moments to secure an emphatic 4-0 win over the French.

Since 1992 when the Olympics implemented age restrictions on the squads competing in the men's football, Japan's best finish came in London 2012 when they finished fourth and they have already bettered their performance from five years ago, when Japan were eliminated after the group stages.

Chris Wood of New Zealand celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on July 22, 2021© Reuters

New Zealand also started their Olympics campaign on a positive note with a 1-0 win over South Korea, and they relied upon one of their over-aged players Chris Wood for the goal in that game.

Danny Hay's side's defence was put under much more pressure in the second group game against Honduras, who came from behind twice to secure a 3-2 win over New Zealand, the winning goal coming just three minutes from time.

That result left New Zealand needing to avoid defeat against Romania on Wednesday and they managed to hold on to a goalless draw after only registering one shot on target.

A 0-0 draw was seen as a positive result from goalkeeper Michael Woud's perspective having conceded three goals in the previous match, as he bounced back and picked up his second clean sheet of the Tokyo Games.

This year is only New Zealand's third appearance at an Olympics and in both previous tournaments in 2008 and 2012, the nation were knocked out at the group stages, making Tokyo 2020 their best ever performance on this stage.

Japan Under-23s Olympic Games Men's Football form:
  • W
  • W
  • W

Japan Under-23s form (all competitions):
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • W

New Zealand Under-23s Olympic Games Men's Football form:
  • W
  • L
  • D

New Zealand Under-23s form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • D

Team News

Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu before the match on July 22, 2021© Reuters

Japan's Kubo is currently two goals behind leading goalscorer at the Tokyo Games Richarlison, and the Real Madrid attacker will be looking to catch the Brazilian forward and France's Andre-Pierre Gignac on the individual leaderboard.

Moriyasu is likely to name the same starting 11 to the one which defeated France 4-0 on Wednesday, including midfield pair Wataru Endo and Ao Tanaka who have both started all three games so far this summer.

Minnesota United defender Michael Boxall was named in New Zealand's squad for this summer's Olympics despite suffering with a hamstring injury, and he is likely to be absent again on Saturday - he will hope his teammates can progress to the semi-finals when he could be ready to return to action.

There are more injury concerns at the back for Hay after Winston Reid was forced off after six minutes against Honduras, and he missed the final group game against Romania this week when New Zealand altered to a back four in Reid's absence.

New Zealand's starting 11 have changed throughout the Tokyo Games, but Hay could decide to go with a similar lineup to the one which beat South Korea in the opening round of fixtures, with Wood leading the line alongside Callum McCowatt.

Japan Under-23s possible starting lineup:
Tani; Sakai, Nakayama, Yoshida, Tomiyasu; Endo, Tanaka; Hatate, Kubo, Doan; Ueda

New Zealand Under-23s possible starting lineup:
Woud; Cacace, Stensness, Pijnaker, Ingham; Just, Lewis, Bell, Champness; McCowatt, Wood

SM words green background

We say: Japan Under-23s 2-0 New Zealand Under-23s

Japan will have gained ounces of confidences from their 4-0 win over France and will also know that New Zealand can be vulnerable defensively after conceding three goals to Honduras.

New Zealand can expect their toughest test to date in this summer's Olympics when they come up against the hosts, who will need to overcome some pressure to reach the semi-finals.

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