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Moriyasu pleased as Japan pass first test

Yangon: Japan’s Hajime Moriyasu was a satisfied head coach after his Japan side overcame both Myanmar and challenging weather conditions to begin their FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Asian Qualifiers campaign with a 2-0 win on Tuesday.

On a warm, wet night in Yangon, early goals from Shoya Nakajima and Takumi Minamino paved the way to victory for Moiryasu’s charges, who avoided the type of slip up already suffered by several Continental powerhouses in the Second Round of the Asian Qualifiers.

With three points secured, Moriyasu – who led Japan to the AFC Asian Cup final in January – declared he was satisfied with his team’s win.

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“The first match in every tournament is a very difficult battle,” he said.

“After coming to Myanmar, we couldn't practice much in the rain, but the result was that the players did their best in the given environment. I would like to appreciate that the players were well-prepared, didn’t allow any goals and were victorious.

“I think that I played very flexibly, as I was aware of today's weather and pitch conditions and responded to them, and as a team we tried our best and fought to deliver my intention.”

While four-time Asian champions Japan were widely expected to beat a Myanmar side which has never qualified for a senior FIFA World Cup – and fell to a shock 1-0 defeat in Mongolia in their opening match last Thursday – Moriyasu revealed he had expected the clash at Thuwunna Stadium would be a tricky start to a challenging campaign.

“Myanmar is a team that has strong individuality and that can carry out the fighting style as a team,” said the three-time J1 League winning-coach.

“I feel, once again, that Asian qualifying will be really difficult games. I feel that I have to make the best preparations in order to continue to outperform my opponents one by one.”

MD2 - Group F: Myanmar vs Japan

Japan’s first goal in Yangon was one of the best seen in the Asian Qualifiers thus far, with FC Porto star Nakajima netting a sensational curling effort from 25 yards to open the scoring in the 16th minute.

Despite his moment of magic, Nakajima, who joined the Portuguese giants from Qatar’s Al Duhail in July, declared the Samurai Blue must improve their efficiency in the final third after they failed to add to their lead after half-time.

“There were other opportunities that could have been scored,” he said. “So, I would like to grow and become more decisive.

“Looking at the situation, I would like to improve the cooperation that goes on attack together, and I think that it is getting better and better.”

Japan’s next assignment on the road to Qatar 2022 and China 2023 pits them against Mongolia at Saitama Stadium on October 10, before an away fixture against Tajikistan five days later.

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