AFC U23 Championship
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Valuable learning experience for Japan, says coach Moriyasu

Friday, January 19, 2018
Japan v Uzbekistan - AFC U23 Championship China 2018

Jiangyin: AFC U23 Championship 2016 champions Japan were knocked out of the 2018 tournament after suffering a 4-0 loss to Uzbekistan in the quarter-finals on Friday, but head coach Hajime Moriyasu said the defeat was a monumental experience for his young team.

Japan were forced into a defensive position when Uzbekistan heavily pressured them, and after conceding three goals in the first half, the young Samurai Blue had little hope of making a comeback.

“The result showed our potential against Uzbekistan, and we will take this experience as development for the team,” said the former Sanfrecce Hiroshima coach.

“We started the game well, and I think our players played with aggressiveness but as time passed, we started to lose possession in one-on-one situations because Uzbekistan were definitely stronger physically.

“When they came at us with pressure, our players needed to make quick judgements and started to lose the ball.

“Uzbekistan didn’t give us time and space on the pitch, and that’s why we need better judgement to predict the situation well.

“Today we lost the match, but the focus is on what we can learn from this match.”

Moriyasu, who is tasked with preparing his young squad of 20 years of age and younger for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, refused to blame the team’s performance to the age factor but expressed his satisfaction with their continuous growth.

“I don't want to use the excuse that the team is two years younger than Uzbekistan, but we want to use all the lessons from this tournament to play better than them in the future and to improve the team.

“Throughout the daily training and matches, the players understood the team concept better and have shared it amongst each other too.

“We tried to play well in both offence and defence, and showed the Japanese mentality very well.

“Moving on, we want to add to these qualities and to play the Japanese style as a team.”

Photos: AFC