Tournament guests, Japan, will be hoping to make full use of their invitation to the Copa America by testing their mettle with South America’s big guns in Group C. First up, is a clash against two-time defending champions, Chile, who are short favourites to come out on top in this encounter.
2019 Copa America
Japan vs Chile
Tuesday 18 June
Cicero Pompeu de Toledo Stadium
La Vinotinto lost once in their last eight friendly matches, though they won once in their last seven competitive matches which results in finishing last in the World Cup qualifiers last year. Venezuela’s main problems pop out at the back. They concede far too many easy goals and the coach keeps changing the centre-back pairing.
Coached by former Mamelodi Sundowns goalkeeper, Rafael Dudamel, who’s been at the helm since 2016, should come with a much more improved team. This is his last tournament to at least prove his worth even if it means qualifying as the third best team, La Vinotinto have to progress.
Japan face an uphill battle on foreign soil. After missing out on the Asian Cup, Japan travel to South America to participate in their second Copa America. The Samurai Blue have a decent record over CONMEBOL opponents, beating Paraguay, Colombia, Uruguay and Bolivia since the start of 2018.
It’s no secret that Japan are using this tournament as a testing ground ahead of next year’s Olympics, especially after Hajime Moriyasu opted to choose a very young squad to compete.
Goalkeepers: Eiji Kawashima, Ryosuke Kojima, Keisuke Osako
Defenders: Naomichi Ueda, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Tomoki Iwata, Ko Itakura, Daiki Sugioka, Teruki Hara, Daiki Suga, Yugo Tatsuta
Midfielders: Yuta Nakayama, Gaku Shibasaki, Shoya Nakajima, Takefusa Kubo, Tatsuya Ito, Koji Miyoshi, Kota Watanabe, Hiroki Abe, Taishi Matsumoto
Forwards: Shinji Okazaki, Daizen Maeda, Ayase Ueda
Chile have many doubters ahead of this year’s Copa America, despite being two-time defending champions. Reinaldo Rueda has an aging squad to choose from with most of Chile’s players being over the age of 30.
They still have the experience and quality of Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal and Gary Medel, but all the above-mentioned players are clearly past their best, although, on South American soil, La Roja will fancy their chances against Japan.
Goalkeepers: Gabriel Arias, Brayan Cortes, Yerko Urra
Defenders: Gary Medel, Gonzalo Jara, Mauricio Isla, Jean Beausejour, Paulo Diaz, Guillermo Maripan, Igor Lichnovsky, Oscar Opazo
Midfielders: Arturo Vidal, Charles Aranguiz, Pedro Pablo Hernandez, Erick Pulgar, Diego Valdes, Esteban Pavez
Forwards: Alexis Sanchez, Eduardo Vargas, Jose Pedro Fuenzalida, Nicolas Castillo, Junior Fernandes, Angelo Sagal
Prediction: Japan (7/1)
It seems like an outrageous outcome, but Japan are tipped to edge Chile out. The hunger from the youthful Japanese squad should be too strong for this aging Chilean side, while the price of 7/1 is certainly worth backing!
Written by Banele Pikwa
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