Matsuki’s long distance rocket leads Japan to win over Senegal in U-20 World Cup opener

Matsuki’s long distance rocket leads Japan to win over Senegal in U-20 World Cup opener

Japan’s best and brightest young players took to Argentina for the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup and they walked out of their first match with three points thanks to F.C.Tokyo’s Kuryu Matsuki.

Matsuki’s 15th minute strike from more than 20 yards found the bottom corner of the net to deliver Japan a 1-0 win over African champions Senegal to start off the tournament on the right foot.

Japan took a J.League heavy squad to Argentina, with 14 of the 21 players on the roster hailing from domestic clubs and another three at universities in line for J.League moves in the upcoming years.

The Young Samurai Blue were on the front foot from the start, with Kawasaki Frontale’s Kota Takai’s getting a good chance on a header early on.

Matsuki put Japan in front after 15 minutes with his terrific strike, but that didn’t change their approach. They pushed for another goal and kept the pressure on, with Fagiano Okayama’s Kodai Sano putting a strong shot on goal and F.C.Tokyo’s Naoki Kumata showing off his confidence with an ambitious bicycle kick.

Senegal pushed for an equalizer, but the Japan defense was too good and limited their chances. The closest the Senegalese came to scoring was a cross that did not find a teammate and a weak shot that Yokohama F·Marinos’ academy product Ryoya Kimura collected with ease.

When the referee blew for full time, the Japan players celebrated. They had gone to the U-20 World Cup and taken an impressive three points that has them in good shape as they aim to make a deep run in Argentina.