Japan eye fifth AFC Asian Cup crown

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Japan eye fifth AFC Asian Cup crown
Hajime Moriyasu has a chance to achieve a rare double when Japan meet Qatar in the AFC Asian Cup final.

Abu Dhabi - Japanese coach, Hajime Moriyasu, said that his players were well-prepared for the title fight

By Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Thu 31 Jan 2019, 5:15 PM

Last updated: Thu 31 Jan 2019, 11:06 PM

Four-time winners Japan are eager to return home with another AFC Asian Cup as they face Qatar in the title clash at Zayed Sports City Stadium on Friday (6pm).
And, the Japanese coach, Hajime Moriyasu, said that his players were well-prepared for the title fight. "The final will be a tough one but we have done our best preparation. We will put our best show on the field. We will adapt to the condition and we will be focused till the very end," Moriyasu said during the pre-match media briefing.
The coach said that his players have improved with each game and were in the best shape for the final test. "We have played as a unit. We have played different opponents so far and adapted (well) to the situation. We attack and defend when we have to. I am confident of another good performance," he enthused.
Moriyasu has an opportunity of a rare double. He had won the Cup as a player for Japan in 1992 and on Friday he could add another title as a coach. However, the 50-year-old coach played down talks of a double. "I am not interested in individual achievements. As a team, we would aim to return home with the trophy," stressed Moriyasu, who played for the Japanese national team 35 times.
The coach acknowledged the contributions made by Al Ain's Tsukasa Shiotani in Japanese defence. "I knew him from his days at Sanfrecce Hiroshima when I was a coach there. He has shown his prowess with Al Ain in the Club World Cup. He is a great asset to the national side."
Japan skipper Maya Yoshida said Japanese football has improved a lot since they last lifted the Cup in 2011. "More players are playing abroad, especially in the European league. They are all mentally better prepared. It was great to see the youngsters putting a good display against Iran in semifinal."
Yoshida said playing seventh match of the tournament was a tough experience for the players. "It is difficult situation but this is the final and we will give our best. No excuses."
The skipper noted a strong performances in the World Cup, Copa America and Asian Cup will enhance the sports culture in the country and inspire new generation to take up football.
"We all want to win a fifth Cup for our people back home. We are seeing a phase of transition in Japanese football and these titles will be a big step forward."
He said there was great cohesion and unity in the squad to win a fifth title. "Team work is reason behind success in any job. I have seen the team spirit during the Asian Cup 2011 and the World Cup. We play with responsibility and pride," he added.
Japan will take on Qatar in Zayed Sports City Stadium on Friday (6 pm).
ashwani@khaleejtimes.com


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