World: Asian Cup
⚽ A. Ueda (6), ⚽ A. Ueda (52)
⚽ J. Hubner (88), ⚽ S. Walsh (90)
Japan’s four Bundesliga representatives are through to the 2023 AFC Asian Cup Round-of-16, though it shall be Eintracht Braunschweig winger Youssef Amyn’s Iraqi “Lions of Mesopotamia” that progress as Group D winners.
|Photo: El Loko Foto, CC BY-SA 4.0
Hajime Moriyasu’s Samurai Blue were able to shake off an upset loss to Iraq in their second 2023 AFC Asian Cup group stage fixture and conclude group play with a 3-1 win over Indonesia. The Japanese men’s national football team conclude Group D in second place on six points. In addition to today’s victory, the four-time continental champions won their opening group stage fixture against Vietnam handily.
There was much significant movement within Moriyasu’s squad for the four Bundesliga professionals currently serving under one of international football’s most famed tinkerers. In contrast to the previous match, VfB Stuttgart’s Hiroki Ito, Gladbach’s Ko Itakura, and VfL Bochum’s Takuma Asano all moved to the bench. SC Freiburg’s Ritsu Doan started his first match of the competition up top on the right in a 4-3-3.
Japan took the lead in the 6th via an Ayase Ueda converted penalty. Ueda completed a scorer’s brace on the 2-0 after the restart. Doan rightfully recorded an assist after some nice footwork on the left and a driven low cross that hit the striker’s feet at the far post. Japan would later increase their lead via an Indonesian own-goal near the end. The Samurai also conceded during a final phase marked by sloppiness and bookings.
Doan went 86 minutes in his first start and remained involved in the attack on both flanks. Ito and Asao remained unused on the bench. Itakura – potentially for reasons pertaining to his recent injury struggles – was not in the match-day squad. Former VfB Stuttgart captain Wataru led his country as skipper for the full 90 minutes again.
Over in the group’s concurrent kickoff, the Iraqi “Lions of Mesopotamia” ensured that Japan would not go through as group winners. The 2007 continental champions took maximum points from their three group stage matches with wins over Indonesia, Japan, and Vietnam. Eintracht Braunschweig winger Youssef Amyn featured as a sub for the second time after starting last time.
Amyn hasn’t gotten his name on the scoresheet yet, but has logged not insignificant cumulative total of 117 minutes for the red-hot Iraqis. As second place finishers, Japan will have to face the winner out of a tough Group E that features successful tournaments squads Bahrain, South Korea, and Jordan. Both Jordan and South Korea – who drew in the last round – remain undefeated.