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In the 2023 Asian Football Confederation AFC Qatar Asian Cup, rival Japan, which will compete with South Korea for the title, also won a closed practice match.

Japan, led by head coach Moriyasu Hajime, beat Jordan 6-1 in a closed friendly match at Al Ersal Stadium in Doha, Qatar on the 9th. The match was not exposed to spectators and media, nor was it an official A match. However, Japan showed off its unusual momentum by winning nine consecutive A matches and a closed-door warm-up match ahead of the Asian Cup.

According to the Japan Football Association, Japan replaced all of its members in the first and second half of the match. For this reason, the number of replacements set by FIFA has not been recognized as an official A-match. Despite this situation, Japan is known to have shown off its strength by frequently shaking Jordan’s net from the first half.

Japan scored four goals in the first half alone, starting with the opening goal of Ko Itakura Mönchengladbach in the 12th minute. Japan changed all 11 players in the second half, and added a penalty kick by Takuma Asano Bohum and Daizen Maeda Celtic to score six goals in a relay.

Japan allowed Jordan to score one goal right before the end of the match, but it did not affect the team’s weight early on. It seems that Japan has focused on adapting to the local environment and maintaining consistent condition by hiring many players. With all players changing in the first and second half of the match, the injured including Kaoru Mitoma Brighton and Hove Albion, Takefusa Kubo Real Sociedad, and Takehiro Tomiyasu Arsonal were absent. Wataru Endo Liverpool did not play because he was not feeling well.

After the game, Moriyasu said through Japanese media “Scarking,” “It was a game that confirmed how we should move both offense and defense as a team. I’m glad that he displayed good aggressive play.”

However, when asked about the loss two minutes before the end of the game, he said, “Since we allowed several critical chances against counterattacks from the opponent team, we need to improve our performance. In the Asian Cup, opponents strengthen their defense and counterattack to counterattack, so if our offense is halfway through, we can give chances to the opponent team. We need to reflect on ourselves.”

Japan has made outstanding results under the leadership of Moriyasu. Moriyasu, who renewed his contract last year by recognizing his achievement in advancing to the round of 16 teams at the FIFA World Cup Qatar, made a new history by leading the team to nine consecutive A-matches.

Starting with the match against El Salvador 6-0 in June, Japan has overwhelmed its opponents regardless of their continents and power, including Peru 4-1, Germany 4-1, Turkiye 4-2, Canada 4-1, Tunisia 2-0, Myanmar 5-0, Syria 5-0, and Thailand 5-0. In preparation for the Asian Cup, Japan also showed off its best skills in the match where it held an opening ceremony against Thailand, which is classified as a Southeast Asian powerhouse, on Jan. 1 at its home turf.

Japan has secured confidence to win the Asian Cup by making nine consecutive A-matches. In the most recent FIFA rankings, Japan boasts of being ranked 17th among AFC countries. Analysts say that the gap between the starting lineup and the candidates is not so wide that the team can fill the entire national team’s main capacity with European leagues.

Japan, which has a high score for its organizational ability, is considered the most likely candidate to win the Asian Cup against South Korea, which has world-class strikers playing in big clubs. It is significant that the match against Jordan maintained its winning trend by 10 games down, even if it was not an official A match.

“In the Asian Cup, it will not be as easy to win even with a big margin as it is now. It will be a difficult fight, but we have to fight with strong perseverance,” Moriyasu said, expressing caution. “I will set a high goal by winning the game right before my eyes. I will think about how to win the Asian Cup.”

The Klineman, who is aiming to win the title for the first time in 64 years, also cites Japan as the No. 1 on alert. Moreover, Jordan, which Japan won this time, is expected to be indirectly compared to the Asian Cup title as Korea will meet in the second group match.

“When I was leading the German team, the Netherlands, England, and the U.S. national team had a special relationship with Mexico,” Jürgen Klinsmann said of Japan, his archrival, at a ceremony to announce the final roster for the Asian Cup on Dec. 28 last year. “I have high expectations for such a rivalry game,” he said. “I will probably meet Japan during the tournament and hope to win the final. I am constantly watching Japan’s matches. I am agonizing over how to prepare for the event.”

Even though he did not let his guard down, he stressed, “I’ll tell you consistently, considering the condition and performance of our players, it’s a good chance to win. It’s a team that can win. Japan is a rival that has clearly grown recently, but we can win the championship.”

Japan is in Group D along with Indonesia, Iraq and Vietnam. If Korea and Japan, which are in Group E, advance to the round of 16, they will be able to meet only in the finals. However, if Korea wins the first place and Japan wins the second place in the group, it will be a tie in the round of 16, drawing keen attention to Japan’s performance in the group stage.

2023 Qatar Asian Cup Japanese national soccer team’s final roster 26 people

Goalkeepers: Daiya Maeka Vissel Kobe, Taysh Brandon FC Tokyo, and Zaion Suzuki Sint Trauiden

Defenders: Yukinari Sugira AZ Alkmar, Shogo Taniguchi Al-Raiyan, Ko Itakura Borussia Mönchengladbach, Goki Machida Luyal Winion Saint-Zillouaz, Seiya Maikuma Cerezo Osaka, Yuta Nakayama Huddersfield Town, Hiroki Ito Stuttgart, Takehi Tomiyasu Asnal, Tsuyoshi Watanabe KAA Hent 먹튀검증

Midfielders: Hideemasa Morita Sporting CP, Wataru Endo Liverpool, Doan Ritz Freiburg, Keito Nakamura Stad de Reims, Takuma Asano Bohum, Takefusa Kubo Real Sociedad, Daizen Maeda Celtic

Strikers: Kaoru Mitoma Brighton and Hove Albion, Takumi Minamino AS Monaco, Ayase Ueda Peyenoord, Mao Hosoya Kashiwa Reysol, Junya Ito Stad Reims, Leo Hatate Celtic, Kaishu Sano Kashima Antlers


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