Japan has recaptured Asias top position in soccer through a team effort. Players beamed with delight as they hoisted the championship cup. Alberto Zaccheronis side beat Australia 1-0 in the final as Japan clinched the Asian Cup for the first time in two championships in Qatar Saturday night January 29 to win a record fourth title.The victory came as an exhilarating achievement amid a recent series of grim news events. We want to applaud the players for their strenuous efforts and the encouragement they gave us. The final was a thrilling seesaw struggle as the two teams fought scorelessly into extra time. Japan repeatedly fought off Australias offensive, which took advantage of their aerial superiority, through the laborious efforts of goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima and other players. Tadanari Lees volley strike in the second half of extra time, which scored the decisive point, was marvellous. We were amazed to see the stamina of Yuto Nagatomo, who cut through the opponents defence on the left side and kicked a left-wing cross to set the stage for Lees game-winning goal.Zaccheroni praised his team, saying: "Were a great team. I want the Japanese people to be proud of this national team." Everyone must have felt reassured as they saw the players fight on unflinchingly in the face of offense by sturdy opponents.
Read the rest of the story: Asian Cup win reflects evolution in Japan soccer.
Japan’s Blue Samurai have warned they are tougher than ever after surviving an epic Asian Cup quarter-final duel against hosts Qatar with Borussia Dortmund goalmachine Shinji Kagawa finally on target.
Kagawa bagged a brace to cancel out Qatar’s lead twice while defender Masahiko Inoha hit the winner on the stroke of stoppage time as 10-man Japan battled to a 3-2 victory.
Japan fired up when centreback Maya Yoshida received a second yellow card on the hour for an innocuous tangle with Yusef Ahmed and Fabio Cesar curled in the subsequent free-kick to put Qatar ahead 2-1.
"We felt down. So we told each other to look straight ahead and play," Japan captain and Wolfsburg midfielder Makoto Hasebe said.
"Nobody gave up till the end. I really feel we have grown stronger mentally.
"We’ve got momentum and coming through a situation like that confirmed our mental strength," added the 27-year-old, who also skippered Japan to the round of 16 at the World Cup last year.
In the semi-finals on Tuesday, Japan will face either fellow three-time champions Iran or South Korea, which Hasebe called "one rank or two ranks higher" than Qatar.
Read the rest of the story: Japan’s soccer team warn ‘We are tougher than ever’.
A 92nd minute goal by Maya Yoshida saved three-time champions Japan from a shock defeat at the hands of underdogs Jordan as the two sides drew 1-1 in their opening Asian Cup match Sunday.Hasan Abdel Fattahs shot on the stroke of half-time ricochetted off VVV Venlo defender Yoshida into the net to give Jordan the lead before the Japanese star headed home the equaliser as the clock ticked into stoppage time.It was a narrow escape for one of the pre-tournament favourites, who are eager to lift a record fourth continental title after losing to Saudi Arabia in the 2007 semi-finals."I am not satisfied with the result, especially in the first half," said Alberto Zaccheroni, who replaced Takeshi Okada as Japan coach after the Blue Samurai reached the World Cup last-16 in South Africa in June."We must accelerate the speed of our play. We failed to finish on chances," added the 57-year-old Italian."I expect other Asian teams will fight like Jordan. We must readjust ourselves with that in mind."Jordan coach Adnan Hamad said: "Our players played with confidence and a victory was possible. The result was not bad but sad."At the last minute, Japan managed to take points from us," added the Iraqi, who turned Jordans fortunes in the middle of qualifying and guided them to their second ever Asian Cup finals.
Read the rest of the story: Japan narrowly escape Asian Cup defeat to Jordan.