Moriyasu: Japan growing stronger

Dubai: Hajime Moriyasu liked what he saw as Japan moved into the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 semifinals on Thursday.
Their place in the last four against Islamic Republic of Iran was sealed with a 1-0 win over plucky Vietnam and the Japan head coach said the performance against feisty opposition was proof that the Samurai Blue are growing stronger with each passing match.
Japan dominated the tie at the Al Maktoum Stadium and shrugged off being denied a goal in the first half by a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) review to advance.
Ironically, it was a VAR review that led to Japan’s goal, as they were awarded a penalty after Ritsu Doan had been brought down in the box. The midfielder then stepped up to convert.
“As a team, we earned another solid experience, and hopefully, it will be the same for the next match.
“As we have players with little international experience, it is important that they are exposed to tough matches on a big stage like the Asian Cup.
“Playing tough matches and winning in the knockout stage boosts confidence and also leads to the development of the players and team.”
“It was good that the players did not concede any goals to Vietnam. It was good that we had many goal scoring opportunities but Vietnam played with patience, and accuracy is something we need to improve in our next match.”
The 1-0 win meant Japan became the first team in the tournament’s history to win five consecutive matches with single goal margins.
“The players were really focused despite finding it difficult to score. They kept doing what they had to do, which was very pleasing.”