Japan under Moriyasu are still learning

Tokyo: Japanese football fans heaved a disappointing sigh on Saturday after record champions Japan suffered a 1-3 defeat against Qatar in the Asian Cup final in Abu Dhabi. Qatar, hosts of the World Cup in 2022, stunned the four-time champions by taking a two-goal lead into half-time.
“Japan have yet to possess the power to bounce back from the adversity,” Nikkan Sports newspaper said.
“Qatar seized the initiative with a superb goal. They had more spectacular performances,” Japan Football Association chairman Kozo Tashima said, referring to Almoez Ali’s overhead kick.
Qatar conceded only Takumi Minamino’s second-half strike during their campaign. Akram Afif’s late penalty ended coach Hajime Moriyasu’s bid to become the first to win the tournament as player and boss.
It was the first loss for Japan since the team was eliminated from the last 16 at the World Cup in Russia last summer.
It was also their first defeat under Moriyasu, who took over there ins following the World Cup.
“The defeat was disappointing. But our players did their best on the fields,” Tashima said.
“The team was seeking both achievement and progress this time. It is a mix of young players plus those who fought at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The team expected tough games and was aiming to lift the Asian Cup while growing together,” Nikkan Sports newspaper said.
Japan’s Kyodo News pointed out a “lax atmosphere” in the team’s practices just one day before the final.
“It was undeniable that the Japanese players had eased up after beating up on title contenders Iran in the semifinal,” Kyodo said.
Japan captain Maya Yoshida was quoted by Kyodo as saying after the final that the team “should have completed their mental preparation.”
— dpa