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Second half dynamism was key: Japan coach
January 11, 2019
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Abu Dhabi: Japan head coach Hajime Moriyasu has revealed that a second-half change in approach helped his side come from behind to eventually claim a narrow 3-2 win over Turkmenistan in their opening Group F game at the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019.

The four-time Asian champions went into the break trailing 1-0 after Arslanmurat Amanov’s stunning long-range strike had threatened to earn Turkmenistan their first-ever victory at the continental Finals.

However, a much-improved Japanese display after the break – which saw Yuya Osako score twice and Ritsu Doan add a third – proved enough to seal all three points for Japan despite a late scare courtesy of Ahmet Atayev’s 79th minute penalty.

“At the break I went over the first half and told my players about our transition play, the battle around the ball and the need to read the game better than we had been doing. We made it difficult for ourselves after conceding the goal,” Moriyasu explained.

“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.

“In the second half, we were more dynamic, and 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],” he added.

The fine margin of Japan’s success came as no surprise to Moriyasu however, with the former Sanfrecce Hiroshima boss braced for a tight game ahead of the Samurai Blue’s tournament opener.

“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,” he said.

“It turned out to be just as had we 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.”

‘Loss of concentration’

Meanwhile, Turkmenistan head coach Yazguly Hojageldiyev believes a loss of concentration was the major factor in his side’s defeat, although he has backed the Central Asians to bounce back in their next match against Uzbekistan on Sunday.

“We knew Japan would control the ball a lot, but we seemed to lose concentration in the second half,” he explained.

“It was a close result, but unfortunately we lost. We had some tired players it is true, but the real reason we lost today was the fact that we lost our concentration after half-time.

“We are not out of the competition yet. I know the players will be ready to give their all for our next two games.”

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