HANOI — Japan coach Ivica Osim praised his players’ powers of recovery after their come-from-behind 4-1 victory over cohost Vietnam on Monday sent the defending champions into the quarterfinals as winners of Group B with seven points.
Japan will play Group A runnerup Australia in their quarterfinal match in Hanoi on Saturday, looking to avenge the 3-1 defeat to the Socceroos at the World Cup finals in Germany last year.
“I rarely give my players credit, but we scored good goals today, though it wasn’t a perfect game,” said Osim.
“We made a mistake at the beginning for their first goal but you have to be prepared for everything in football.”
Keita Suzuki sliced the ball into his own net to put Vietnam ahead, but two goals from Seiichiro Maki and one each for Yasuhito Endo and Shunsuke Nakamura underlined Japan’s overall dominance.
“Maybe at the beginning we were a little bit nervous. At the start, Vietnam had the upper hand but we slowly got back into the match.
“In this kind of tournament, you can’t expect an easy game and it was a tough match playing under weather conditions like this. I haven’t changed players much, so they might have some fatigue and it made me worried a bit.”
The Bosnian coach said Vietnam tired in the second half, letting Japan enjoy the better of things after the break.
“Maybe they got tired and maybe we played better in the second half. It was a game of two halves for the Vietnamese.”
Austrian coach Alfred Riedl paid tribute to his players after the United Arab Emirates’ 2-1 victory over Qatar ensured Vietnam went through as runnerup in Group B. The cohost will play Group A winner Iraq in their quarterfinal match in Bangkok on Saturday.
“Of course I am proud of my players, but I was already proud of them,” said Riedl. “They achieved a lot in the first two matches and I knew the third game would be difficult.”
Riedl said he was confident before the game that the UAE would get a result against Qatar in Ho Chi Minh City.
“Anything in the south was possible,” said Riedl. “Maybe not in the north (in Hanoi), but I knew that result was possible.”
Riedl didn’t feel it necessary, though, to get on the phone to UAE coach Bruno Metsu to thank him.
“Why should I phone him?” said Riedl. “He obviously didn’t want to lose three matches in a row.”
Riedl also praised Japan for an emphatic victory.
“The Japanese has better physique, better technique and play well better under pressure,” said Riedl. “We played against a team one and a half or two classes above Vietnam today. We lost 4-1 and that wasn’t a shock.
“We lost two goals to individual mistakes and in the second half we just tried to keep up with them.”
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