Good lesson for Kashima, says Oiwa
Abu Dhabi: Go Oiwa urged his Kashima Antlers players to show more “mental toughness” in the future after watching them crash to a disheartening 4-0 defeat to River Plate on Saturday.
The AFC Champions League winners were picked apart with ease in their FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2018 third-place playoff – with River netting three goals in the last 17 minutes to put the exclamation point on their victory.
Kashima struggled to deal with River’s quickfire counter-attacking approach in Abu Dhabi and Oiwa was left frustrated by his side’s shaky defending in the second half.
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“When I think of this competition we were reminded of the high level of the teams involved,” Oiwa said in his post-match press conference. “We have to sharpen our tactics and learn from the experience.
“After winning through Asia we were able to come here with confidence, but I think it showed, we have to have better, higher mental toughness.
“There were systematic gaps that we allowed them to exploit, partly because of their fast-paced technique and the way they controlled the ball.
“In this tournament we faced a higher-level of team compared with the J League or AFC Champions League. We need to be better at what we do.”
While those “gaps” in defence were one major issue for Kashima, a lack of composure in front of goal at the other end also prevented the Japanese side from getting back into the match.
“I don’t remember how many times we hit the bar during the match,” Oiwa said. “We were able to create many opportunities. We showed we had the technique and mentality, but we couldn’t finish things off.
“For me, this shows that we still have shortcomings particularly at this level and this is one of the things we have to work on.”
River’s first goal came from a corner, seconds after injured goalkeeper Kwoun Sun-Tae was replaced by Hitoshi Sogahata in the first half. For Oiwa, it was the decisive moment in the contest at Zayed Sports City Stadium.
He added: “In a match that is something that can happen, your goalkeeper going off injured.
“We should have been more careful at that corner, with the new keeper coming on, but we lost our focus, they took advantage and scored, and I think that was the turning point in the match.”
Photos: FIFA via Getty Images