Japan’s Junya Ito delivered a crucial win for his team as he netted the winner against the Sultanate of Oman to end the tough encounter at 1-0 on Tuesday at Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in the sixth round of group B in AFC Asian qualifiers — Road to Qatar 2022.
The triumph took Japan to second place in the group with 12 points behind the topper of the group Saudi Arabia who have 16 points after edging Vietnam 1-0 in Hanoi on Tuesday.
With the third defeat of Red Warriors in Group B, Oman remained at fourth place with seven points.
The head coach of the national team, Branko Ivankovic, began the crucial fixture against heavyweight Japan with a starting line-up featuring Fayez al Rushaidi as goalkeeper. Ali al Busaidy, Juma al Habsi, Ahmed al Khamisi and Amjad al Harthy were in the defence line.
The experienced Harib al Saadi was heading the middle line besides Zaher al Aghbari, Arshad al Alawi (Abdullah Fawaz) and Salah al Yahyai. Al Mundher al Alawi (Jameel al Yahmadi) and Issam al Subhi (Khalid al Hajri) were the two attackers in the front.
The initial 15 minutes of the first half were played carefully from both sides to avoid receiving an early goal.
The first actual opportunity for Red Warriors came through Arshad al Alawi who tried to find the net by sending a strong ball in 17th minute.
The opponent’s movement was better as they controlled and pressed hard towards Fayez al Rushaidi seeking for the opening goal.
Japan’s Junya Ito received a long ball from Yuto Nagatomo but Ito’s ball went above Fayez’s net in the 23rd minute.
The Croatian coach decided to replace Issam al Subhi by Khalid al Hajri in the 33rd minute due to injury of Issam. Oman’s strong defender Ahmed al Khamisi broke all the Japanese attempts created by Miiki Yamane and his teammates in the right side. The first half ended in a goalless draw.
The second half of the fixture started with a dangerous move by Japan strikers but once again the stronger defence line and the goalkeeper in behind saved the scoring attempts. The Sultanate of Oman bounced back strongly as Arshad al Alawi sent strong ball went right side of the net in the 56th minute. In the upcoming minutes, Jameel al Yahmadi and Abdullah Fawaz entered the pitch replacing Arshad al Alawi and Al Mundher al Alawi respectively in the 69th minute.
In the last ten minutes of the game, Japan strikers continued pressing hard towards Fayez’s goals and they managed to penetrate in the penalty box through Kaoru Mitoma who assisted Junya Ito with a golden pass and Junya converted the ball into the net in the 81st minute. In the remaining minutes, coach Branko Ivankovic’s men tried their best to register the equaliser but all the attempts broken by the opponents defending line and the match ended for the guests 1-0.