When the Japanese national soccer team was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Asian Cup, voices pointed out the players’ mindset as one of the reasons.
Japan lost 1-2 in the quarterfinals of the 2023 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup Qatar against Iran at Alaiyan Education City Stadium in Qatar on the 3rd (Korea time).
Among the teams that participated in the Asian Cup, the two teams with the highest FIFA ranking (17th in Japan and 21st in Iran) faced off in the quarterfinals. Japan defeated Bahrain 3-1 in the round of 16 to advance to the quarterfinals, while Iran defeated Syria after a penalty shootout.
It was Japan that scored the first goal in a showdown between championship contenders. Iran finished the first half 0-1 when Hidemasa Morita scored the first goal in the 28th minute of the first half, but the match was balanced when Mohammad Mohebi scored the equalizer in the 10th minute of the second half.
Iran continued to pressure Japan, but rarely made the comeback goal needed to win. As the game entered extra time in the second half, both teams were expected to enter extra time, but allowed Japan’s defenders to turn the tables as they made outrageous mistakes.
The problematic situation stems from the mistakes of Ko Itakura and Takehiro Tomiyasu, who played as a combination of center backs. The two players tried to clear the ball together even though they were not in a difficult situation, but their movements got twisted and spilled the ball backward. At that time, Iranian center back Hossein Kahnani succeeded in taking the ball, and Iran’s penalty kick was declared as Itakura hurriedly tackled from behind to knock over Kahnani.
Afterwards, Alireza Jahanbakhsi, who played as a penalty kick, scored a clean kick, and the game ended with Japan’s 1-2 defeat. Iran won a ticket to the semifinals.
The result is hard to accept for Japanese soccer fans. Although the FIFA ranking is the highest at this year’s event, and 20 out of 26 players are players playing in Europe, Japan failed to advance to the semifinals.
Japan, which was acclaimed as the best squad ever, sought to win the Asian Cup title for the first time in 13 years since its victory in Qatar in 2011, but ended up eliminating the latter in the quarterfinals. Angry at the below-expected performance, some fans demanded the dismissal of the national team’s coach, Moriyasu Hajime.
Japanese media “Nikan Sports,” where the Japanese national team packed early at the Asian Cup, cited “lack of passion” as one of the factors for elimination from the quarterfinals on the 4th.
The media mentioned the controversial remarks of Takefusa Kubo (Real Sociedad) and Takehiro Tomiyasu (Ahnall) ahead of the tournament. Kubo, who was included in the final roster of the Asian Cup, caused a stir before joining the national team by saying, “It’s a shame that the Asian Cup will be held during the league. After all, the team that pays me is Sociedad,” adding, “On the other hand, if such a tournament is convened, I have to go because I have to attend it compulsorily.”
“I wish the Asian Cup would be held in June like the Euro. I don’t know why we have to hold the Asian Cup in January,” Tomiyasu said, expressing his dissatisfaction with participating in the Cup by continent during the season.
In response to their remarks, the media analyzed, “Players in European leagues are fiercely competing with their world-class peers in their teams,” adding, “If you leave the club for more than a month, there is a possibility that your seat will disappear in the meantime.”
Players may be dissatisfied with participating in the Asian Cup as it could adversely affect their team’s competition for the starting lineup, but the media judged that it was a statement that showed how Japanese players thought of the Asian Cup. They claimed, “Iraq and Iran, which beat Japan, rejoiced as if they had won the Asian Cup at the end of the game. They were completely behind in their passion for the tournament.” 헤라카지노
This contrasts sharply with the Taegeuk Warriors of the Korean national soccer team. Korea, which aims to win the Asian Cup for the first time in 64 years since 1960, successfully advanced to the semifinals by defeating Saudi Arabia and Australia after 120 minutes of bloody battle in two consecutive matches.
On the secret of the national team’s victory, coach Jürgen Klinsmann said, “The driving force seems to be the thirst of the people to take the trophy to Korea for the first time in 64 years,” citing the Taegeuk Warriors’ mindset.
Son Heung-min (Tottenham Hotspur), the captain of the Korean national soccer team, even though he played full-time as a starter for five consecutive games since the start of the tournament, said, “I think it’s the biggest excuse to play for the country, but I think it’s hard.”
Therefore, the Japanese players’ attitude of prioritizing the club situation over the national team was enough to complain even locally.
Meanwhile, in addition to lack of enthusiasm, the media cited Moriyasu’s replacement timing and an accident outside the game as factors for elimination of the quarterfinals. During the tournament, goalkeeper Suzuki Zaion (Sintrauiden) made a series of mistakes against Iraq and was racist on social media after the game ended with a 1-2 defeat, and Junya Ito (Stad de Rens) was even dismissed from the national team after being sued for sex crimes ahead of the tournament.