Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Japan’s Europe stars prove the difference in World Cup qualifier



Japan’s Europe stars prove the difference in World Cup qualifier

Japan’s Shinji Kagawa (No 10) celebrates a goal.
Japan’s Shinji Kagawa (No 10) celebrates a goal. AFP

Japan’s Europe stars prove the difference in World Cup qualifier

Japan's three eye-catching players in Europe, Keisuke Honda, Maya Yoshida and Shinji Kagawa, proved their unquestionable class by scoring a goal each in a totally dominant 3-0 home victory over Cambodia in the second round of the World Cup qualifiers at the well-filled Saitama Stadium yesterday.

Having nearly 80 per cent possession in this Group E encounter, Japan virtually pitched their tent in the Cambodian half, hardly allowing the visitors any leeway for even a mild counterattack .

Such was Japan’s stranglehold on the game that only once did a Cambodian player manage to get past the firewall, but eventually Kouch Sokhumpeak’s attempted header from the edge of the box fell safely into the hands of the goalkeeper.

That was to be the only positive for coach Lee Tae Hoon who was forced by the sheer star power of the opposition to employ ultra-defensive tactics with almost the entire side falling back to defend.

But for goalkeeper Sou Yaty’s heroics in fending off several sharp scoring attempts by Japan’s marauding strikers, the score would have been much bigger.

The victory came as a huge relief for manager Vahid Halihodzic, who had come under increasing pressure after highly rated Japan were held to an embarrassing goalless draw by Singapore at the start of the campaign in June.

The Bosnian, who took control of the Japanese national team earlier this year, had gone without a win in the last four competitive matches.

Japan travel in a joyous mood to Tehran in the next few days to meet Afghanistan on September 8, while Cambodia, having suffered their third straight defeat, return home to face Syria at the Olympic Stadium on the same day.

A visibly tense Halihodzic watched his side miss several opportunities to score in the early stages, often raising both his hands in sheer disappointment.

But approaching the half-hour mark, Italian Serie A star for AC Milan Keisuke Honda changed the complexion of the game, the manager’s demeanour and the mood in the stands with a thunderous strike with his trusty left foot.

Japan crossed over with that Honda goal, but within the first 15 minutes after the restart, Southampton’s Maya Yoshida and Borussia Dortmund striker Shinji Kagawa had produced stunning efforts to beat Sou Yaty.

Japan kept piling on the pressure, but somehow Cambodia managed to arrest the score-line, disappointing though it was in the end for both Lee Tae Hoon and the players.

H s Manunath

MOST VIEWED

  • No payment required for travellers taking rapid Covid tests on arrival

    Ministry of Health officials said there would be no payment required for the rapid Covid-19 tests given to travellers who arrive in Cambodia from November 15 onwards after the quarantine requirement is lifted for fully vaccinated people. Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine told The Post on

  • General’s gun smuggling ring busted

    The Military Police sent six military officers to court on November 22 to face prosecution for possession of 105 illegal rifles and arms smuggling, while investigators say they are still hunting down additional accomplices. Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of

  • More Cambodians studying in US

    The number of Cambodian students studying at US colleges and universities in 2020-21 increased by 14.3 per cent over the previous year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent US government report. The 2021 Open Doors report on International Educational Exchange showed that 848 Cambodian students studied

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • Police arrest Canadian with 167kg of drugs

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on November 15 placed a Canadian national in pre-trial detention in connection with smuggling and possessing 167kg of illegal drugs. Deputy National Police chief in charge of anti-drug enforcement Mak Chito told The Post on November 15 that the man was arrested

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”