Moriyasu: Qatar were the better side
Abu Dhabi: Japan head coach Hajime Moriyasu has admitted that Qatar were worthy winners after seeing his Japan side succumb to a 3-1 defeat in Friday’s AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 final.
Spectacular first-half strikes from Almoez Ali and Abdelaziz Hatim, coupled with a late penalty from Akram Afif helped Qatar seal their first-ever AFC Asian Cup title and deny the Samurai Blue a record-extending fifth Continental crown.
Takumi Minamino’s 69th minute goal had briefly hinted at a Japan revival, but notwithstanding the East Asians’ second-half rally, Moriyasu believes Qatar were full value for their success.
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“Our goal was obviously to win the title for our fans, and I feel disappointed that that we could not deliver the win for the people of Japan,” he said.
“It is my responsibility that my players could not show their strength on the pitch. You saw how we started the game, we could not get into our rhythm and there was a mismatch in the systems between Qatar and Japan."
“However, I always believe the winning team [of any tournament] is the strongest one and, in those terms, Qatar were the better side.
“It did not come as a surprise to me because we knew Qatar can have a tight defence as well as strength in attack. They had a quick attack and they can also move the ball and create chances. I think the head coach is building a very good team for the FIFA World Cup in 2022.”
Despite the nature of Japan’s defeat in the title showdown, Moriyasu believes their latest AFC Asian Cup campaign has provided valuable lessons which will help build a stronger side in the months and years to come.
“The goal when we came here was to be champions, so obviously I am disappointed,” explained the former Sanfrecce Hiroshima boss, who won an Asian Cup title in 1992.
“I am, however, proud of how we have developed. Coming into the competition, we wanted to have a team that was a blend of both young and experienced players."
“I want to thank the more senior players who have helped the younger ones [in the squad], and I now want the youngsters to retain their hunger to improve.
“The seven matches we have played at the AFC Asian Cup have been against different teams and styles which has also helped us improve as a side.
“I think this tournament will form the base from which we can build a team for the future and I want our staff and players to be proud of what we have achieved here.”