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AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar: Japan's Yoshida frustrated despite victory over China PR


Doha: Japan captain Maya Yoshida was left frustrated by his team’s performance despite helping the Samurai Blue pick up their first win in Group B of the AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar with a 1-0 victory over China PR in Doha on Tuesday.

Yuya Osako’s goal late in the first half was enough for Hajime Moriyasu’s side to return to winning ways after a surprise single-goal defeat at the hands of Oman in their opening game in Osaka last week.

The margin of Japan’s victory was slim despite outplaying Li Tie’s team for large portions of the game, and the inability to win by a larger margin left Yoshida focusing on his side’s shortcomings.

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"While we got the three points for the win, there were still a lot of areas needing improvement,” the Sampdoria defender told media after the game. “It was still close and I had hoped we could score another goal."

The Japanese twice hit the woodwork – through Takefusa Kubo and Osako – before taking the lead when Osako volleyed in Junya Ito’s cross from the right three minutes from the end of a dominant first half display.

The Chinese improved in the second half with the introduction of A Lan and Luo Guofu from the bench without seriously threatening Japan’s lead as Moriyasu’s team largely kept the game under control.

AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar: China PR 0-1 Japan

"Our aggressive style of football forced China to play in defence, it was not the way the Chinese play,” said Moriyasu.

“I knew that the Chinese would raise their intensity in the second half, they put more players in the front line as well. We managed it well and we didn't concede a goal.”

The result moves Japan onto three points from their first two games while China PR are bottom of Group B with Vietnam, with no points and no goals so far.

“I am very grateful for the efforts of my players,” said Li. “We saw the gap between us and the best team in Asia through the game. I am satisfied with the fighting spirit of my players.

"All my players have equal opportunities, I only select the starting line-up on the basis of the game plan and requirements. No matter starters or substitutes, they all fought hard."

With the Chinese Super League on a break until early December, China PR will set up in camp in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, where there next game against Vietnam will be played on October 7.

"We will definitely train very hard and I hope all my players' fitness could improve to a higher level after one month of training," Li said.

"I hope we have chances to play friendly matches against teams who are better than us. Before the final round of the qualifying tournament, we couldn't play high quality games for nearly two years due to the pandemic. Australia and Japan out-competed us with fast tempo, that's what we need to improve on."

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