Maya Yoshida says Japan let guard down in Asian Cup loss

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Japan's sustained pressure in the final third paid off soon afterward, however, when Minamino broke through for his first goal of the tournament.

In a phone call held Saturday, Erdoğan congratulated Qatar's success, after the team beat Japan 3-1 at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in the United Arab Emirates.

The forward had won the AFC Champions League with his club side Al-Sadd FC, but Al-Haydos said that winning the two continental are two different experiences. That was always a possibility when Qatar, whose team have never qualified for the World Cup, was named host country of the 22nd edition of world soccer's showpiece - the smallest nation to receive that honour and the first from the Arab world.

"I don't want to see any stupid things, especially after the game, because we are representing Asia", Yoshida said in English at a January 31 news conference, touching on the fact that the February 1 final will be broadcast internationally.

"They were ready despite having only two days and played more aggressively than we did", Yoshida said.

Japan were praised for their class and dignity in defeat after leaving their dressing room spotless in the wake of their defeat to Qatar in the Asian Cup final on Friday.

The highly-charged match was played in the UAE's capital, with Qatar's players welcomed by a barrage of boos as they walked onto the pitch.

Felix Sanchez's team are keeping their expectations in check for the South American championship despite snatching the Asian title from a lowly world ranking of 93.

"It was a super strike - but it's a goal we could have prevented", said the Galatasaray defender.

Ali, meanwhile, became the first player to score nine goals at a single Asian Cup after being cleared to play just hours before kickoff following a UAE protest over his eligibility.

In Almoez, Sanchez had a striker who could serve as a target-man upfront whereas Afif 's blistering pace comes in handy while initiating a quick counter-attack.

Japan's Takumi Minamino salvaged a goal for the his side when he scored from inside the box in the second half.

But then it will be back to work.

"I've worked with Almoez for a very long time and we have good relationship", the Spaniard said. Yes, he got these because of the group but he also worked really well.

Last night, Qatar showed they are not far off taking Japan's place in Asia. But I am happy that we could play seven matches and develop our game more.

The defeat was the first for Japan since being knocked out of last summer's World Cup round of 16 in a 3-2 loss to Belgium.

As mentioned in the earlier part of this article, Qatar's national football team members-who are mostly under the age of 25-technically grew up within Sanchez' care and tutelage, making them the champions that they are today.