Japan suffers shock loss to Iraq
Japan suffered a 1-2 defeat against Iraq in their second Group D match of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup 2023 at the Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, at 8:30 p.m. on July 19.
After a hard-fought 4-2 victory over Vietnam in their first match of the tournament on June 14, Japan’s loss to Iraq put a red flag on their chances of advancing to the round of 16 at the top of the group.
As a result of today’s matches, Iraq, with two wins and six points, leads Group D, while Japan, with a 1-1 record, is second in the group with three points.
The standings could change later in the day depending on the outcome of the match between Vietnam and Shin Tae-yong’s Indonesia at 11:30 p.m. 안전놀이터 at the Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium in Doha, Qatar.
Japan will play the third match against Indonesia on Sept. 24.
Even with a win over the Indonesians, Iraq would still advance to the round of 16 as the second-ranked team in the group if they can win three straight games.
If Japan advances to the knockout rounds as Group 2, their opponent will likely be South Korea. The second-place finisher in Group D will face the first-place finisher in Group E at 8:30 p.m. on Aug. 31.
South Korea still has to play Jordan (on the 20th) and Malaysia (on the 25th), but barring any upsets, South Korea will finish first in Group E.
Japan was considered a stronger favorite than South Korea heading into the tournament. As such, Japan was expected to enter the tournament as the top seed in Group D.
If Japan topped Group D and Korea advanced to the round of 16 as the top seed in Group E, the two teams would only meet in the final.
Jürgen Klinsmann (GER), the head coach of the Korean national team, said before departure, “Our goal is to win the tournament. We want to meet Japan in the final,” and predicted a Korea-Japan match in the final stage.
However, Japan’s unexpectedly poor performance and shock loss to Iraq made it more likely that they would finish second in the group. It is now more likely that the Korea-Japan match will be played in the round of 16 rather than the final.
Japan, ranked 17th in the FIFA rankings,
Were expected to upset 63rd-ranked Iraq in the match to boost their chances of advancing to the round of 16 early.
However, that expectation was shattered from the start. Aymen Hussein gave Iraq the lead in the fifth minute, finishing off a ball that the goalkeeper failed to handle correctly.
Japan dominated possession and pushed for an equalizer.
Despite the Japanese offense, it was Iraq that scored the second goal of the game. In the 49th minute, Ahmed Al-Hajai sent in a cross from the left flank inside the penalty box that Hussein finished with a header.
With the game on the line, Japan took off Shogo Taniguchi (Al Rayyan) for Takehiro Tomiyasu (Arsenal) at the start of the second half.
With a renewed aggressive approach, Japan seemed to be rewarded with a penalty kick in the 11th minute of the second half. Takuma Asano (Bochum) was tripped by the Iraqi defense while shooting a cross from the left flank, and the referee pointed to the penalty spot.
However, after checking the video assistant referee (VAR), the referee overturned the initial decision that it was not a penalty.
Japan then brought on a host of Europeans, 파워볼실시간 including Ayase Ueda (Feyenoord), Doan Ritz (Freiburg), Daisen Maeda and Leo Hatate (Celtic), in search of a goal.
In the 49th minute, they finally pulled one back. Wataru Endo (Liverpool) headed home a ball from the left flank by Hatate.
Japan continued to push the ball forward in search of an equalizer, but the Iraqi goal was unable to find the back of the net, and the game ended in a 1-2 loss for Japan.