Chiba: Japan head coach Hajime Moriyasu hailed his team after beating Mongolia 14-0 on Tuesday for their biggest-ever qualifying win.
Japan are unbeaten in their Asian Qualifiers Group F campaign for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023, leading the standings with 15 points, with Tajikistan five behind.
Japan, who are looking to reach their seventh FIFA World Cup in a row at Qatar in 2022, scored five first-half goals to take complete control of the game against Mongolia.
But the Blue Samurai refused to take their foot off the gas, notching another nine after the break to set a new qualifying record and finish just one goal short of their all-time biggest win.
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"You could see from the score that the two teams were at a different level, but it wasn't about our opponents -- it was about how to keep our concentration going into the match," said Moriyasu, whose team have scored a total of 26 goals and conceded none.
"We prepared well and we kept pushing ourselves and never let up."
Japan had not played an Asian Qualifiers tie since November 2019 because of the coronavirus pandemic, but showed no signs of rustiness as Southampton forward Takumi Minamino gave them the lead in the 13th minute, before goals from Yuya Osako, Daichi Kamada, Hidemasa Morita and a Mongolian own goal put Japan five ahead at half-time.
Osako made it six 10 minutes after the restart, before substitute Sho Inagaki scored on his debut.
Two goals from Junya Ito and one from Kyogo Furuhashi then sent Japan into double figures.
Furuhashi scored again to break Japan's previous biggest score in FIFA World Cup qualifying, before a late flurry of goals - including Osako's third of the evening -- put an emphatic full stop on the victory.
"It's good that lots of different players scored and that the players who should score, such as Osako, did score," said Japan captain Maya Yoshida.
"That was the biggest thing to take from tonight. We kept going to the end without letting up, and we scored quite a few in the dying minutes."
Sources: AFP, JFA
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