After a lengthy period away from the pitch due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Japan finally made their return to the 2022 FIFA World Cup/2023 AFC Asian Cup joint qualifiers on Tuesday, taking on Mongolia at JEF United Chiba’s Fukuda Denshi Arena. The pandemic meant that Mongolia were unable to host the Samurai Blue at the MFF Football Center in Ulaanbaatar and the “hosts” were subjected to their second-ever heaviest defeat, succumbing to a 14-0 beatdown at the hands of Group F leaders Japan.
Having warmed up for the resumption of their 2022 FIFA World Cup Asia Qualifying second round campaign with a 3-0 friendly win over regional rivals South Korea at Yokohama’s Nissan Stadium on March 25th, Japan made short work of minnows Mongolia at the Fukuda Denshi. Liverpool’s very own Takumi Minamino, currently on loan at Southampton, kickstarted the party in the 12th minute with an excellent finish from the edge of the area that went straight past Mongolia goalkeeper Munkh-Erdene Enkhtaivan.
Yuya Osako then made it 2-0 Japan in the 23rd minute, before three minutes later Eintracht Frankfurt’s rising star Daichi Kamada tripled Japan’s advantage. Hidemasa Morita, who had transferred from reigning J.League 1 champions Kawasaki Frontale to Portuguese top flight side Santa Clara during the Japanese off-season, blasted in Japan’s fourth in the 32nd minute and seven minutes later Mongolia midfielder Khash-Erdene Tuyaa deflected Ken Matsubara’s cross into his own net, making it 5-0 Japan.
Mongolia did not fare better at all in the second half, with Werder Bremen striker Osako scoring his brace in the 55th minute to continue the Samurai Blue onslaught on the hapless Blue Wolves. Nagoya Grampus’ Sho Inagaki then made it 7-0 in Japan’s favor in the 68th minute, before KRC Genk’s Junya Ito bagged a brace of his own in the 73rd and 79th minute, the two goals sandwiching a 78th minute effort from Vissel Kobe’s Kyogo Furuhashi thus enabling the scoreline to reach double digits – 10-0 after 80 minutes.
A hapless Munkh-Erdene had to pick the ball out of his net for the eleventh time in the 87th minute after Furuhashi plundered in his brace, before three goals in injury time sealed Mongolia’s fate – one from Partizan Belgrade’s Takuma Asano in the first minute of injury time, Osako completing his hat-trick in the second minute of injury time, before Inagaki placed the cherry on top with a brace of his own in the third minute of injury time.
The emphatic win was Japan’s second-biggest win in their history, one goal shy from a 15-0 demolition of the Philippines in 1967. As for Mongolia, the 14-0 loss was their second-heaviest defeat in history, with the Blue Wolves’ biggest loss being another 15-0 result, this time at the hands of Uzbekistan back in 1998.
With qualification to the third round of the 2023 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers now assured, Japan could seal progress from Group F with a win over Myanmar on June 3rd.