Monday 10 January 2011

Asian Cup Special 2 - Japan vs. Jordan report

Maya Yoshida went from villain to hero in dramatic fashion on Sunday evening, but Japan suffered a hugely disappointing start to their 2011 Asian Cup campaign as they were held to a 1-1 draw by lowly Jordan.

The Middle Eastern side, ranked 104th in the world by FIFA, took the lead against the run of play in first half stoppage time when Yoshida inadvertently diverted a Hasan Abdel Fattah attempt into his own net, but the VVV Venlo stopper eventually made amends with a headed equaliser on 93 minutes.

Manager Alberto Zaccheroni opted, as expected, for a 4-2-3-1 system with Ryoichi Maeda chosen to lead the attack and Daisuke Matsui preferred to Shinji Okazaki on the right of midfield. Yoshida and Yasuyuki Konno formed a makeshift centre-back pairing in the absence of several key defenders - including Tomoaki Makino, who has now been replaced in the squad by Mitsuru Nagata after failing to recover from a double ankle sprain.

Japan began the game in positive fashion and controlled possession throughout the first half, but in a manner all too reminiscent of previous failures before last year’s World Cup, struggled to create many real chances against unfancied opponents happy to sit back and defend.

The best opportunity of the opening period fell to Shinji Kagawa on 40 minutes, when a clever dummy by Maeda left the Borussia Dortmund star through on goal only to see his low shot blocked by Amer Sabah from eight yards. Kagawa had earlier tested the goalkeeper with a cross-cum-shot from the left-hand corner of the penalty area, while Yoshida saw a close-range effort ruled out for offside after Makoto Hasebe’s low drive was parried.

The favourites were made to pay for their profligacy and indecision in front of goal when Jordan scored a shock opener on the counter attack moments before the interval. Amer Deeb stole possession high up the field on the right-hand flank before squaring to Hasan, whose 20-yard shot took a massive deflection off Yoshida and flew past the helpless Eiji Kawashima.

Zaccheroni responded immediately by introducing Tadanari Lee for a full international debut in place of Maeda, but now the Jordanians enjoyed the luxury of a lead to defend, Japan’s players found themselves with less and less space in which to turn persistent domination into genuine goal threat. Hasebe volleyed narrowly wide from substitute Okazaki’s cross, but the likes of Kagawa and Keisuke Honda were otherwise restricted to frustrated pot shots as full time approached with the scoreline unchanged.

Four minutes of injury time displayed seemed to suddenly galvanise the Samurai Blue into life. Hasebe collected a short corner from Kagawa to place a high curling cross toward the back post, where Yoshida rose high above two Jordan defenders to head home and rescue Japan’s blushes.

There may even have been time for an improbable winner, but Lee failed to control the ball at the death despite finding space to shoot against a tiring back line.

The Japanese players appeared despondent afterwards having struggled so badly in a match they had been expected to win comfortably, and their manager would seem to have plenty to resolve ahead of Thursday’s meeting with Syria.

“I felt we controlled the game and had easily the more chances,” said Zaccheroni. “But we were essentially thrown off course by an own goal. The speed of our build-up play was a little too slow at times, and this is something we will need to work on before our second match.”


There was another surprise in the late game in Group B as three times Asian champions Saudi Arabia went down to a 2-1 defeat against Syria. Two deflected goals from Abdulrazaq Al-Husein proved sufficient for the Syrians, making their first appearance in the competition since 1996, despite a second half equaliser by Tayseer Al-Jassem. Saudi coach Jose Paseiro was immediately fired in the wake of the result.

AFC Asian Cup results
Group B
Japan 1-1 Jordan
Saudi Arabia 1-2 Syria

posted by Ben Mabley at 01:07 | Comments (2) | TrackBacks (0) | Minutecast | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする
Comment on this article - この記事へのコメント
So what do you think happened to the 3-4-3 that this coach is famed during his time with AC Milan?

All the TV pundits I saw were lauding this as the new era using this formation, with Nagatomo joining in raids from the back... Hmmm


Ps. We met briefly at Cereso vs Gamba last season. Nice blog and twitter reporting, look forward to more plus podcasts. Cheers.
Posted by Richard at 10 January 2011 01:34
Hi Richard,

What happened to the 3-4-3… well, the 21st century probably! I wrote an article about Zaccheroni's tactics on my column back in September ( ), plus a more detailed dismissal of the back three before the World Cup ( ).

That said, those were written with more of a global stage in mind. Against weaker Asian opponents likely to sit back and defend, Japan could still use a back three in order to field one more attacking player in a 3-2-3-2. Honda up top alongside Maeda or Okazaki would give more physical presence as an extension of the success gained in playing him as a lone forward in South Africa.

Plan to write another article on tactics in the next week or so over at .

As for the TV pundits, I'm afraid there is more of a tendency there to jump on a bandwagon than there is to offer logical discussion of tactics…
Posted by Ben Mabley at 13 January 2011 11:22
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