Hajime Moriyasu, head coach of Japan football team, revealed that they had switched game plan in the second half and that helped them salvage a hard-fought 3-2 win on Turkmenistan in their opening Group F game at the AFC Asian Cup UAE on Wednesday at Al Nahyan Stadium.
After Turkmenistan shot, the four-time champions were trailing at the breakthrough a breathtaking Arslanmurat Amanov’s remarkable long-range strike had threatened to achieve the latter, which is their first-ever victory at the continental finals.
“At the break, I went over the first half and told my players about our transition play,” said Moriyasu. “There was a battle around the ball and we needed to read the game better than we had been doing. We made it difficult for ourselves after conceding the goal.”
Japan has clawed their way back into the match hope for a brace of goals by Yuya Osako before Ritsu Doan has sealed the win. Later the margin was reduced by Ahmet Atayev in the 79thg minute via a penalty but it was not enough to see Turkmenistan home. Moriyasu revealed that “in the first half, we struggled a little with Turkmenistan’s tight defence, but we moved the ball well and I thought that was effective,” adding, in the second half his side was more dynamic and expressed the desire to improve.
He continued, “Our approach play was better, and I think that was the reason behind our three goals.”
“We could, though, have done more combination play and have played the ball forward more often, so that is something that we will look to rectify in our next match against Oman,” added Moriyasu.
He also asserted that he has expected a tight game from the starting as it was the first outing and against a strong team.
Moriyasu also said that “It was predictable that the first match of the tournament would be a difficult one, and that is something which I shared with the team.”
“It turned out to be just as we had predicted, but the good thing was that we won and that we could deliver a victory to our fans both here in the UAE and back home in Japan. However, for the next match, we must improve in both defence and attack,” he added.
On Sunday, Japan will play their next match against Oman at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi.
While speaking about his team’s showing, Turkmenistan’s head coach Yazguly Hojageldiyev said that “a lapse in concentration after the half-time break cost us the game but we will bounce back strongly in the next outing against Uzbekistan. We knew Japan would control the ball a lot, but we seemed to lose concentration in the second half.”
Mr. Hojageldiyev went on to reveal that they are not yet out of the competition and will work harder for the next match.
He continued, “The next game is a very important one for us, and even though we are not entirely certain how we will prepare just yet, I know the players will be ready to give they’re all for our next two games.”
On Sunday, Turkmenistan is likely to take on Uzbekistan at Rashid Stadium in Dubai.