Home Breaking News Endo urges Japan to improve following their advancement to the quarterfinals of the Asian Cup.

Endo urges Japan to improve following their advancement to the quarterfinals of the Asian Cup.

Hajime Moriyasu's team, initially considered pre-tournament favorites, still faces lingering questions as they have been unable to secure a clean sheet in their four games.

by Jamsheera
Japan football shapes after reaching quarter final of Asian Cup

Captain Wataru Endo cautioned that Japan’s Asian Cup opponents could “exploit” their vulnerabilities, following a shaky performance that led them to the quarter-finals with a 3-1 victory over Bahrain on Wednesday.

Initially in control with goals from Ritsu Doan and Takefusa Kubo on either side of half-time, Japan’s comfortable lead was disrupted by an own goal from the error-prone goalkeeper Zion Suzuki, allowing Bahrain to re-enter the game.

Ayase Ueda increased Japan’s lead with his fourth goal of the tournament, but Liverpool midfielder Endo cautioned that their quarterfinal adversaries may not be as lenient.

“In football, teams analyze you, searching for gaps they can exploit,” he noted.

“Our performance in the tournament has been closely scrutinized, and it’s challenging for opponents to defend against us.

“Maintaining concentration throughout the entire 90 minutes is crucial.”

Mitoma entered the game in the second half, marking his return since injuring his ankle on December 21.

However, uncertainties persist for Hajime Moriyasu’s team, initially considered tournament favorites but yet to secure a clean sheet in four games in Qatar.

Goalkeeper Suzuki, prone to mistakes, was again culpable for Bahrain’s goal. The 21-year-old misjudged a punch, got entangled with Ueda, and fumbled the ball over the line.

Moriyasu attributed the conceded goal to a lack of communication, stating, “It wasn’t all perfect, and next, we will play either Iran or Syria. They possess a lot of talent up front, and we need to perform better than today. We have to reflect on the goal we conceded.”

Japan initiated the scoring in the 31st minute when Seiya Maikuma’s shot hit the post, and Doan reacted quickest to slot home the rebound.

Moriyasu’s team faced an enforced change when Celtic midfielder Reo Hatate exited due to injury, with Hidemasa Morita replacing him.

Kubo extended Japan’s lead in the 49th minute after a VAR goal check. Despite appearing offside, the final ball had touched a Bahrain defender.

What seemed like a comfortable victory for Japan turned tense when Suzuki inadvertently scored an own goal in the 64th minute.

Ueda eased Japan’s nerves in the 72nd minute, drilling the ball home after a sweeping forward move.

Mitoma, introduced in the 68th minute, played a part in several late chances but couldn’t find the net.

Bahrain exited the tournament after topping Group E ahead of South Korea. Coach Juan Antonio Pizzi acknowledged that “Japan were better than us tactically and physically.” He highlighted Japan’s stability with the same coach for five years and praised the quality of every substitute they brought on. Pizzi, the 2016 Copa America winner with Chile, made these remarks.

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