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Toshev: Tajikistan took a step forward despite Japan defeat

Dushanbe: They may have suffered their first Asian Qualifiers defeat, but Tajikistan head coach Usmon Toshev believes his side showed how far they’ve come in Tuesday’s 3-0 loss to Japan.

Buoyed by the confidence provided by wins over Kyrgyz Republic and Mongolia in their opening FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 matches, the Central Asians showed no fear against the four-time Asian champions, remaining well in the contest until Takumi Minamino scored twice in three second-half minutes before Takuma Asano added the final goal in the dying stages.

Tajikistan had lost 8-0 in the last Asian Qualifiers meeting between the sides in 2011, and, while this defeat saw them fall three points behind Japan, Toshev was looking beyond the result in his assessment of the match.

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“Considering the time of preparation, the condition of the guys, I am satisfied with today's game,” said the former Uzbekistan international.

“The guys played at the maximum of their capabilities. Of course, the result is unsatisfactory, but our team took a step forward in the game. How? It was the content of the game, our composure.



“Unfortunately, we lacked the skill and a little strength. It was due to fatigue that our players lost concentration in the second half.

“As they say, you cannot build a house without a foundation - it takes time. Only playing with strong opponents, the team will grow. I think that the Tajik team is on the right track. The match against Japan is by far our best game so far.”

Japan had enjoyed almost uninterrupted dominance in their previous wins over Myanmar and Mongolia, but they were forced to overcome moments of concern in a jam-packed Republican Central Stadium before eventually sealing another comfortable win.

Despite his satisfaction at Tajikistan’s approach to the match, Toshev was left to rue what might have been had Istiklol midfielder Ehsoni Panshanbe given them a half-time lead.

“In the previous matches of the qualifying tournament for World Cup 2022, the Japanese team did not let out opponents from their half of the field, and today we attacked, and attacked a lot,” said Toshev.



“Our players created several sharp attacks. Who knows how the game would have developed if we had scored in the first half, when Ehsoni Panjshanbe did not score from that one-on-one opportunity?

“If we take the statistics of the match, then possession of the ball was 47 to 53 (percent) - this is a good indicator.”

While Tajikistan remain confident of earning at least a second-place finish in Group F, but much will depend on their two away matches in November in Myanmar and Kyrgyz Republic.

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