# Debutants Japan stun England with a 2-1 win
By Rizal Abdullah
Sultan of Johor Cup debutants Japan pulled off another stunner in the six-national Under-21 Invitational tournament when they inflicted a 2-1 defeat on England in their third match at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium in Johor Bahru on Wednesday.
The win, their second in as many days, came in the wake of Japan’s 4-1 whitewash of New Zealand on Tuesday. Japan lost their opening match against Australia by a whopping 6-0 margin.
However, Japan are fast establishing themselves as the dark horse of the tournament after the win over England. England is actually the Great Britain side that won the title last year.
The 6-0 defeat to Australia seemed to have woken up the Samurais. Within the first six minutes against England the Japanese showed their intentions but missed two penalty corners.
England too had their fair share of misses in the first half as the both teams took the break on level terms.
The Japanese appeared even more organised in the second half and could have taken the lead through Koyo Kameyama in the 38th minute but he hit wide despite taking the ball past three players into the D.
Japan finally found the much needed goal which came on 44 minutes through Koji Yamasaki and this prompted England to lift their game.
England captain James Gall got the goal they were searching for from open play in the 65th minute to level the tie and throw the match open.
Yamasaki, who scored two against New Zealand, was again the hero after applying the finishing touches to Soma Yamasaki’s move with just two minutes on the clock for a great win under sweltering conditions.
“I did not expect that playing under the heat would give us an advantage, but after losing to Australia, I told my players to change the way they think.
“I needed my players to focus and not pay too much attention to the strength of the opponents,” said Japan coach Kyoichi Nagaya, who expects a tough match against Malaysia on Friday.
England coach Jon Bleby gave Japan full credit for their win.
“Japan played well and I was impressed actually and at the same time I was disappointed that we conceded… We need to create and convert more chances,” said the Englishman.