Samurai Blue win big on New Year’s Day against Thailand

Samurai Blue win big on New Year’s Day against Thailand

The Japan men's national team started off 2024 right, beating Thailand, 5-0, thanks to a five-goal second half at the Japan National Stadium.

A crowd of over 60,000 was on hand to see the Samurai Blue’s final home match before the AFC Asian Cup kicks off in Qatar and Hajime Moriyasu’s side gave them a show.

Junya Ito wore the armband and he helped put the Samurai Blue on the front foot for much of the first half, but they couldn’t break through for a goal.

It only took six minutes after the break for Japan to finally break through, though. Ritsu Doan came off the bench and immediately made his mark down the left, feeding Ito for a chance. Ito’s shot was blocked, but Ao Tanaka pounced and knocked the ball into the net for the opener.

Keito Nakamura doubled the Japan lead when he tapped home a rebound after a Takuma Minamino shot was saved, before an own goal made it 3-0.

Takumu Kawamura made his senior team debut, turning a great season for Sanfrecce Hiroshima into a look for the Samurai Blue, and he promptly scored his first Japan goal, heading home to make it 4-0.

Minamino was a threat throughout so when he finally found the back of the net in stoppage time, it was more than deserved.

It was a terrific start to the year for Japan, who looked just as good as they did throughout a fantastic 2023.

Next up is the Asian Cup, and Moriyasu has his boys in excellent form as they aim to conquer the continent once more.