AMMAN – Japan was left to count the cost of a second-half penalty miss by Yasuhito Endo as the Asian champions crashed to a controversial 2-1 away defeat to Jordan that ruined their chance of becoming the first team to qualify for the 2014 Brazil World Cup on Tuesday.
But the country’s association chief, Kuniya Daini, said after the match that he would be lodging a complaint with world soccer governing body FIFA, after both Endo and goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima had laser beams shone directly in their faces during a pulsating encounter at King Abdullah International Stadium.
“We will make a complaint,” Kuniya said.
Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni was also left seething after two Jordan players made provocative cut-throat gestures to the Italian coach at halftime and fulltime to suggest he would get the sack.
Zaccheroni took offense to Odai Alsaify and Jordan captain Amer Deeb both goading him as the match ended on an unsavory note for the Japanese, whose unbeaten record in the final round came to an end.
“I’m not the kind of coach that likes to be provoked and threatened,” Zaccheroni told the post-match news conference.
Endo admitted laser beams had been directed at him when he stepped up to take the penalty that would have leveled the game at 2-2 on 71 minutes, but was saved magnificently by Amer Sabbah. That miss came moments after Manchester United’s Shinji Kagawa had pounced on a lobbed pass from Hiroshi Kiyotake to smash home from close range and put Japan back in the match.
“It wasn’t just the penalty, there were other times in the game too but it (the laser beam) didn’t really affect me,” Endo said. “I was focused and tried to place the ball where I wanted to put it, but the goalkeeper read it.”
Japan created a hatful of chances with Ryoichi Maeda twice going close in the first half, but Jordan, thrashed 6-0 in Saitama in June, broke the deadlock in first-half stoppage time. Khalil Bani Ateyah beat marker Shinji Okazaki to head in Deeb’s corner and trigger delirious scenes among home fans.
Okazaki nearly forced an equalizer with a shot that Sabbah was equal to, but Ahmad Ibrahim ghosted past Maya Yoshida and kept his head to sweep in a superb second.
“We didn’t take our chances,” shrugged Okazaki. “We were doing well and my mistake led to us conceding the first goal. You are not going to win away unless you take your chances but it is not over yet and we just have to try and regroup for the next match.”
Australia’s 2-2 draw with Oman in Sydney in the only other match in the group earlier in the day meant Japan needed only a point to secure one of the two automatic berths in Group B and qualify for its fifth World Cup finals in a row.
Despite the defeat, Japan (13) is still six points clear at the top of the group ahead of Jordan with two games left. Australia, which has played one game less, and Oman are on six each and idle Iraq has five.
Zaccheroni also admitted that Japan’s lack of a cutting edge had cost it dear and he was disappointed that his players had not heeded his advice after they conceded from a set piece just the way they had in Friday’s 2-1 warmup win over Canada in Doha.
“We wanted to qualify for the World Cup (today) and it is a real shame and we are all disappointed but I can’t criticize Jordan. We paid the price for not taking our chances,” he said.