Higashi Fukuoka cruises to high school title


Higashi Fukuoka eased to its third national high school championship on Monday, downing Kokugakuin Kugayama with a sounding 5-0 win at Ajinomoto Stadium.

Higashi Fukuoka, which counts Inter Milan’s Yuto Nagatomo among its graduates, led 1-0 at the break before a second-half onslaught as it again defeated a Tokyo team in the final following its wins over Teikyo in 1997 and 1998.

“We have been working hard to reverse the opinion (as the worst generation in the school’s history) so we’d like to savor the win,” said Kento Nakamura after scoring a brace in the win.

Higashi Fukuoka took the lead in the 35th minute, when three direct passes from the left set Kaito Miyake free on the right to slot home.

The second came right after the break from a well-worked free kick. Three Higashi Fukuoka players stepped back together toward the wall blocking the defenders’ view and crouched right before Nakamura struck from 25 meters out and found the left side of the net.

Kugayama, which had never reached the semifinals before, charged forward in search for a goal but had two shots blocked in the 65th minute, and Daiki Mochiyama put the game to bed with a looping effort two minutes later.

Kotaro Fujikawa tapped in the fourth in the 70th minute, and Nakamura scored his second from 20 meters out with 10 minutes to go.