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Mexico and Japan battle to scoreless draw in U-22 friendly

Mexico and Japan tied 0-0 in a friendly played in Celaya, Guanajuato to start the preparations for the 2020 Olympic qualifiers

Mexico v Japan - U22 International Friendly Photo by Jaime Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images

Mexico and Japan played an even match in Celaya, Guanajuato, finishing in a 0-0 draw. The game had little chances, and once againcCoach Jaime Lozano’s team looked solid defensively but with little attacking flair. Mexico struggled on offense against a solid Japanese team who is set to be a force in their Olympic games to be hosted in 2020. Mexico will now face Cimarrones de Sonora in a friendly at the Centro de Alto Rendimiento(CAR) in Mexico City.

The first half was very even in a field that wasn’t at its best because of rain in the last few days. Still, Mexico and Japan tried to give a good performance and both teams did a good job of controlling their opponent offensively. Mexico had the first good chance of the game when Paolo Yrizar got a ball in the front of the goal but his shot went wide.

Mexico didn’t have a good opportunity after that until Gerardo Arteaga had his left footed shot easily saved by the keeper.

Japan had more of the possession at times but they really never threatened Sebastian Jurado at goalkeeper for Mexico. Finally in the final minutes, Jose Juan Macias got his first chance but his shot also went wide. A truly uneventful first half came to an end and both teams would need to improve a lot for the second.

The second half started and Mexico went into the attack from the start. It was in minute 52 when they had their best attacking play. Macias got a cross in the area and lowered the ball beautifully, but unfortunately the Japanese defense was able to get to his shot and block it with a diving slide.

After the play, Japan made three substitutions at the same time and the game started to fall in the usual friendly pace of making subs and looking at different players.

Later on, in what might have been Mexico’s best opportunity in the counter, Sebastian Cordova had a chance but he wasted it by shooting from long range instead of finding a wide open Alan Mozo.

The tide turned and it was suddenly Japan who had the best chances. Twice Japan would have gotten a player wide open in the area but both times the crosses were badly made and went just out of reach of the players. Then Jurado was finally forced to make a save in the final minute of the game.

At the end, the draw was set and fans left a little disappointed in not seeing a better game.

Mexico’s game against Japan sets up the start of the preparation for the 2020 Olympic qualifiers to be played in Guadalajara. While it might be a good result to start with, several things can be a sign of worry for the upcoming U-23 games. Once again coach Jaime Lozano’s team looks to have little offensive ideas.

That said, a good sign for the team is how Jose Juan Macias, leading scorer in Liga MX and a guy who should be playing with the senior team, looked good and how it shows that with better players, there can be a jump in quality. Moreover, a lot of players in the Gold Cup squad and the current team are eligible for the Olympic qualifiers.

Still, the rest of the team, the one which Lozano has been working with in Toulon and the Pan American games in Lima, looked with little offensive work and will need to improve, especially if teams do the normal style Mexico faces in CONCACAF of sitting back and holding on defensively against a Mexican team expected to attack. It will be a long battle for Mexico if Lozano doesn’t learn to open up teams and create dangerous opportunities for their attackers.