# Big hearted Samurais come out tops in penalty shootout after 2-2 draw


By Rizal Abdullah

Sultan of Johor Cup first timers Japan could not have asked anything better than a podium finish as the Samurais roared back to send England empty handed in the third place playoff at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium in Johor Bahru on Sunday.

Japan ensured they stood on the podium with a 4-1 win in the penalty shootout after the third-fourth placing match ended in a 2-2 draw after regulation time.

It was a remarkable feat by Japan who only came into the tournament after regulars and two-time champions India withdrew despite confirming their entry earlier.

For England it was disappointing tournament after winning the Cup last year as Great Britain. The English team was virtually the same team as last year.

England, who lost to Japan 2-1 in the round-robin, twice took the lead but Japan refused to go down to draw 2-2 in regulation time.

“My players have got big heart and had great desire to do well. That won us the match,” said Japan coach Kyoichi Nagaya.

“We are grateful to be given the chance to be here. We learnt a lot and will take the experience to the Junior World Cup.”

Except for Malaysia, the rest of the five teams – Japan, England, Australia, Pakistan and New Zealand – will all feature in the Junior World Cup Finals to be held in Lucknow, India from Dec 8-18.

England took the lead through Jack Clee with a reverse shot in the 20th minute but the Japanese cancelled the lead from Miyu Tanimitsu’s penalty corner in the 31st minute.

Jon Bleby’s men ensured they still went into the break with a lead after Jack Waller scored from open play just seconds before the half-time hooter.

Japan, who refused to accept defeat in just about every match they played at the Taman Daya Stadium, again showed their resilience and determination to turn the tie around in the second half.

They were rewarded with a goal by Kaito Tanaka after he skipped past two defenders before unleashing a shot into the top corner.

Japan converted all their attempts in the shootout with Koji Yamasaki, Kaito Tanaka, Shinichi Kamezaki and Ryo Ozawa beating Toby Reynolds-Cotterhill while only Peter Scott scored for England.

Japan goalkeeper Keita Matsuda saved attempts from Jack Clee, Rhys Smith.

“I’m upset that we lost. We played some brilliant hockey but did not have execution. We need to get the ball across the line,” said a disappointed Bleby.

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