Asia Cup Quarterfinal Preview: Qatar Vs Japan
Qatar national team coach Bruno Metsu says that his team will be facing the “Barcelona of Asia” as they take on the Blue Samurais of Japan at the Al Gharafa Stadium in the first quarterfinal of the Asian Cup.
The Japanese team came to Qatar at the start of the New Year touted as the pre-tournament favorites to lift the Asian title but have made a relatively indifferent start to the tournament.
But after a mediocre start, some have observed that the East Asian side is becoming stronger. In the last match of the group stage, Japanese hammered Saudi Arabia 5-0.
The latest victory against the Saudis will surely be a defining moment of the tournament for Japan and the players must be brimming in confidence as they take on the host nation in the quarter final.
Bruno Metsu has acknowledged the fact that his young side will face a mammoth task as they will take on one of the best football team in the region but has promised that his side will not be over-awed by the occasion.
Before the start of the tournament, many people predicted the Middle Eastern nation to crash out of the competition in the group stages and it looked certain when the hosts lost the opening game of the tournament against Uzbekistan.
Since then, Qatar have gone from strength to strength just like Japan and made it through to the next stage of the competition. Qatar’s progress has surprised many critics from all over the world and there has been much criticism aimed at Qatar eversince
the small nation won the right to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022.
However, Bruno Metsu reckons that even though his team is up against it, they will find a solution to neutralize the threat the Japanese pose.
”They made an indifferent start but have developed over the three matches and are a very good team. I believe that in the coming years, they will be the best team in Asia,” said the former Senegal coach.
Bruno will be forced to make a few changes for this match as defender Mohammed Kasoula is suspended for the game while key midfielder Hussein Yasser has been omitted from the squad for disciplinary reasons.
Japan coach, Alberto Zaccheroni thinks that if his side keeps on playing the way it has so far in this tournament, they will be able to get a positive result today.
”We have analyzed Qatar and I can imagine what they will play like,” said the Italian. He also added that he knows the strengths and weaknesses of the host nation but admits that it will be a difficult match.
It will be a tricky tie for the Japanese side as Qatar likes playing the game in a compact position which allows its defenders to easily close in on the attacking threat of any team.
Qatar have become very organized defensively after their opening day defeat but there are still questions about the lack of a proper left back in the team and Japan will be looking to use that area to its benefit.
Japan on the other hand will be looking up to Shinji Kagawa and Keisuke Honda to supply the firepower for this game. The duo is yet to show its quality in this tournament but maybe this is the tie where the two European based Japanese stars will come alive.