Match Report: Japan 4-0 Morocco

(Photo by Will Cheshire for 2023 IBSA World Games).

Japan emerged 4-0 victors in their final group match of the Women’s Blind Football World Championships at the IBSA World Games 2023, sealing all the spoils versus Morocco.

They looked the more threatening of the two sides throughout the match and put pay to their chances with some clinical finishes.

Hana Shimatani put Japan 1-0 in the first-half with a close range finish before consolidating that advantage just moments later with another poacher’s goal, pouncing first in the box. She had her brace and had put Japan in a strong position at half-time.

It was Sora Kikushima who would pick up the baton in the second-half for Japan to double the deficit with two shots of blistering power and accuracy off either flank.

Morocco had their share of possession but struggled to create chances whilst Japan looked threatening throughout.

The win sealed Japan’s dominance in the group, finishing top having won all their games and confirming a place in the semi-final. Morocco on the other hand must settle for a 3rd place finish in the group as they await a 5th place play-off.

In women’s blind football the teams are 5-a-side including a fully-sighted goalkeeper who is restricted to a small box around her goal to allow attackers to come quite close to the goal without interference with the keeper.

The outfield players wear blindfolds are receive instruction from the side-lines and their goalkeeper directionally as well as the ball having a rattle in to assist.

The atmosphere of the match was a completely different experience to a full-sighted game. Quiet was requested from the crowd to ensure players could hear each other and the ball on-pitch. As soon as the whistle went to start however the air was filled with shouts of the players and the rattle of the ball.

Morocco got off to a strong start, immediately winning a corner from kick-off but Japan were able to attack on the break from the resulting turnover in play.

It was Morocco who had the better of the opening chances with number 8 taking the first shot of the game, just wide past the right post.

Japan, however, got the early breakthrough. Shimatani executed a driving run, dribbling through a melee in the Moroccan defence to finish from close-range low in the bottom left corner past the Moroccan keeper.

It was advantage Japan in the first four minutes.

(Photo by Will Cheshire for 2023 IBSA World Games)

The Japanese team would break again just minutes later in search of consolidation of their lead. Mako Takeuchi managed to evade two challenges before play was brought back in her advantage.

Prior to the free-kick the near- and far-post was tapped by the Japanese coach to guide the players in aiming at the goal. As it was, Japan took a short free-kick and Morocco did well to force a turnover and apply pressure at the other end.

It was end-to-end football, in a tightly contested match between the two sides.

Morocco were soon to produce strong opportunities for themselves. Hanae Berouan attacked with force, brushing off two Japan defenders but Rika Suzuki did well to recover to make a last-minute tackle to stop the chance.

At the other end, Kikushima showed deft skill with close control that saw her round two Moroccan defenders and before blazing a shot wide of the far post.

Despite exchanges of play and a Moroccan called time-out, Japan looked the more threatening of the two teams in the first half.

Such attacking threat was to be rewarded once more with 5 minutes remaining on the clock when Shimatani was once again found upfront. Again, close control allowed her to get a shot away from close-range and whilst the initial shot was parried by the Moroccan keeper, she was first to the loose ball and fired high into the net to double Japan’s advantage and her own goal tally.

Morocco came close to halving the deficit when Hanae broke into the box and would have been clear on goal if it was not for an excellent recovery by the Japanese defence to block her shot.

Japan still looked the bigger threat on goal with Morocco never truly threatening to get back into the game. Once more they were to offer goal threat when Haruka Wakasugi burst forward with 2 minutes remaining on the clock.

She was pressured well by Morocco Boudiab Aoumayma but her skill forced a foul from the defender as she won a free-kick on the edge of the box. Japan, however, were unable to capitalise on the opportunity, firing wide at the far post.

As the sun managed to break through the clouds for the second half, it was Morocco’s opportunity to try and find a breakthrough against Japan.

They applied pressure early on and had the share of possession in the opening exchanges but once again failed to convert this to clear-cut chances.

Instead, it was Japan who had the first shot on goal of the second-half, they broke quickly down the right of the pitch to win a free-kick but the resulting effort was saved well by the Moroccan keeper.

Their threat, however, soon paid off. Kikushima picked up the ball on the right side of the pitch before thundering a shot low across goal and in off the far post. Despatched with power and accuracy it was a stunning finish that confirmed Japan’s dominance in the match and sent them three goals clear.

 (Photo by Will Cheshire for 2023 IBSA World Games).

It was Kikushima who would break forward just moments later, this time down the left-hand side and once more provide a potent threat for Japan.

She found herself clear and closing in on the goal, firing once more to the far-post to get her brace and another goal of stellar quality. This one slightly higher it rippled the side netting and left no chance for the Amri Hasnae to get a hand to it. Within minutes, Japan had doubled their first-half advantage.

It could have been a fifth for Japan when Mako Takeuchi broke forward to fire a shot on target, this time the Morocco keeper was able to get down to save the shot and avert the danger.

Morocco had an opportunity for a consolation goal with five minutes remaining on the clock as Kikushima broke forward, evading the challenges of two Japan defenders. Her shot, in the end, trickled wide of the near post with the defence having done just enough to disrupt her getting any firm contact.

Though Morocco were certainly not to be defeated without challenge. With just three minutes remaining on the clock, Nadir Dumaima produced what was arguably their best opportunity of the game.

She burst through on goal and fired low and on target from close range, forcing an excellent save from the Japan goalkeeper. She was unlucky not to score.

(Photo by Will Cheshire for 2023 IBSA World Games).

Japan got their just rewards for what was an accomplished attacking performance, the scoreline reflecting their accuracy and potency when on the offensive. They emerge from Group A as strong favourites for the tournament having won all their games and finishing with a total goal difference of +10.

Whilst falling to a 4-0 defeat, the efforts of the Moroccan team were not reflected in the deficit. They remained in the game throughout, just caught on the counter by a clinical Japanese attack. Completing the game without the option of the subs, they battled valiantly and never looked defeated.

Their efforts were not enough, however, Morocco will not progress to the semi-finals on this occasion. Japan, on the other hand, carry their attacking potency through to the next round and will surely aim to emerge World Champions.

You May Also Like