Thursday, 23 February 2012

Japan beat Malaysia to boost qualification hopes in Olympic qualifier

Japan achieved both their targets in their 4-0 demolition of the national Under-23 side in their penultimate Asian Group C Olympic qualifying match at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

Not only did Japan get all three points but they also improved their goal difference with the big win.

Japan got their goals through Hiroki Sakai (36th minute), Yuya Osako (45th), Genki Haraguchi (55th) and Manabu Saito (60th) to revive their hopes of an automatic qualification for the London Olympics.

Syria and Japan were tied on nine points prior to last night’s match, with the middle east nation having a better goal difference. The win over Malaysia sees Japan topping the group temporarily as Syria were scheduled to play Bahrain later yesterday.

The match against Japan clearly showed up the national players’ inability to read the game and to make the right decisions at the crucial moments and that proved to be the team’s downfall.

“We opted for an attacking play after playing defensively in the first leg and it cost us dearly,” said coach Ong Kim Swee after the match.

“We had our moments but lacked the ability to make chances count. We tried to come back after going a goal down, but Japan’s second goal killed us off. We have to accept that plenty of work is needed if we are to reach the level of giants like Japan.”

Kim Swee’s men did well during the early stages of the match before the same old malaise – lack of concentration – cropped up after the half hour mark.

And this time not even goalkeeper-cum-skipper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat, who put up a virtuoso performance in the 2-0 loss to Japan in Fukuoka last September, could save them.

Malaysia’s Olympic dreams have long been dashed after four straight defeats earlier – going down by identical 2-0 margins to Japan and Syria and 3-2 to Bahrain.

Malaysia’s hopes of qualifying for the playoffs went up after losing 2-1 to Bahrain in Manama on Feb 5.

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