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Moriyasu praises Japan spirit

Al Ain: Hajime Moriyasu hailed his team’s fighting spirit as Japan advanced to a fifth AFC Asian Cup final since 1992 on Monday with a 3-0 win over Islamic Republic of Iran at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain.

A brace from Yuya Osako and a late strike from Genki Haraguchi took the Japanese into the tournament decider, where they will face either the United Arab Emirates or Qatar at Zayed Sports City Stadium on Friday.

“Iran have had great results in the past and we knew they were going to be a very tough opponent, but the players had prepared well and they showed great fighting spirit,” said Moriyasu, who also led Japan to the final of the Asian Games in Indonesia last summer."

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“They didn’t forget to have the mindset of challengers and that gave us the win today. The atmosphere was like an away game for us, but there were many Japanese supporters and many people back home supporting us too.

“I’m happy the players could show the spirit to fight and to deliver a good result.”


Semi-final: IR Iran vs Japan

The win over Iran meant the Japanese maintained their perfect record at the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 having defeated Turkmenistan, Oman and Uzbekistan in the group phase before seeing off Saudi Arabia and Vietnam in the knockout round.

While Moriyasu’s team have not always displayed the fluent football for which the Samurai Blue are known, the Japanese impressed in the second half against an Iran side favoured by many to advance to the final.

And the former Sanfrecce Hiroshima coach stressed he would look to tailor his preparations depending on the opposition his team face in the final.

“I don’t think we have changed compared to how we have played in the previous matches, but what our players did today was, by respecting and knowing our opponent, they tried to perform to their best individually and as a team and play for the result,” said Moriyasu.

“Knowing that Iran have a strong attack and are strong physically, the players were aggressive and showed a lot of fighting spirit, and that was the difference. We tried to win the second ball and they were persistent."

“We knew today it would be very hard to hold the ball, but the players tried hard and delivered the ball from the defensive line to the forwards and I think that was the good part.

“Today we were able to be aggressive in attack and defence but we were patient defensively and we were able to stop the Iranian attacks.

“There wasn’t just one style of play in this match, but the players showed flexibility and that’s what got us our result. In the final we will have our football ideals but when we face the reality we will adjust to that.”

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