• Kyodo


Stuttgart striker Takuma Asano has bizarrely blamed himself for the goal that never was in Japan’s shock 2-1 World Cup qualifying defeat against the United Arab Emirates last week.

Now the striker, who recently represented Japan at the Rio Olympics, wants to take out his frustration on Thailand in the team’s second Group B match in Bangkok on Tuesday.

Asano scored what television replays confirmed to be a perfectly legitimate goal when he struck a headed ball from teammate Keisuke Honda in Thursday’s game in Saitama.

Despite the best efforts of UAE goalkeeper Khalid Eisa to claw the ball out, Asano’s shot had already crossed the line, but Qatari referee Abdulrahman Al Jassim waved play on, prompting the Japan Football Association to lodge an official complaint after the match.

“My shot was not good enough and the goal was disallowed but what can you do?” Asano told reporters after training on Sunday. “I feel bad for all my teammates.

“I hope I can get it right and score to contribute to a win (against Thailand). If a chance comes my way I am definitely going to put it away,” he said.

Asano, who recently moved to English Premier League giant Arsenal but had to be loaned out to German second-tier outfit Stuttgart after failing to get a work permit in Britain, has won six caps so far for the senior national team.

The former Sanfrecce Hiroshima hitman played against Thailand’s Under-23 side in the group stage at the Asian Under-23 Championship in Qatar in January and was impressed with what he saw.

“Player for player the Thais were very strong technically, had pace and were agile,” said Asano. “But I think we can beat them if we play our own game and don’t allow them to make use of their strengths.”

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