Japanese soccer fans expressed their joy at the news of key players scoring goals and advancing to the quarterfinals. At the same time, they also expressed disappointment.
Japan defeated Bahrain 3-1 in the round of 16 of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) 2023 Qatar Asian Cup at Al Thumama Stadium in Doha, Qatar, at 8:30 p.m. ET on Jan. 31. With the win, Japan advances to the quarterfinals and will face the winner of Iran-Syria.
On the day, Japan deployed a 4-3-3 formation. Nakamura, Ueda, and Doan were up front, while Hatate, Endo, and Kubo formed the midfield. The back four was Nakayama, Tomiyasu, Itakura, and Maikuma, with Suzuki in goal.
Bahrain countered with a 4-3-3 formation. Marhoon, Helal, and Madan formed the back three, with Al Sheikh, Al Hardan, and Al Aswad in the midfield. The back four was a combination of Ali, Al Hayam, Bakker, and Adel, with Lutfalah in goal.
It was Japan who struck first. In the 31st minute, Maikuma unleashed a powerful mid-range shot from the front of the penalty box. The ball hit the post, but Doan didn’t miss the second ball and it rattled the net. Shortly after the goal, things changed for Japan. In the 35th minute, Hatate limped to the ground, and Morita was rushed onto the field.
With the lead in hand, Japan added another goal at the start of the second half. In the fourth minute of the second half, Kubo won the ball with forward pressure and laid it off to Ueda, but the pass went behind him. Ali failed to clear the ball and it ended up in the path of Kubo, who scored. The goal was initially disallowed for offside, but after a video assistant referee (VAR) review, the goal was awarded.
There was also a crisis. In the 19th minute of the second half, the Suzuki goalkeeper made a mistake. From a corner kick, Bakker attempted a powerful header that Suzuki blocked with his hand, but the ball was mishandled and floated high. Suzuki tried to catch the ball again but got tangled up with Ueda and the ball went into the goal.
But Japan would not be deterred. In the 27th minute, they managed to increase the gap again. In the 27th minute, after receiving a pass from Maikuma, Ueda took a split-second to hit the ball and break into the box. He finished with a sharp right-footed shot. Japan had several chances in the final minutes of the game, including Asano and Mitoma, but were unable to find an equalizer.
Japan defeated Bahrain 3-1 to advance to the quarterfinals. They will now face the winner of Iran-Syria.
Japanese fans were delighted with the victory and welcomed the goals from key players such as Kubo and Doan, who hadn’t found the back of the net in the group stage, and Mitoma’s first start. At the same time, they were disappointed with the lack of a clean sheet and the performance of frontline striker Asano, who came on as a late substitute for Ueda.
According to Japan’s Nikkan Sports, Japanese fans said, “I want to congratulate the players for reaching the quarterfinals, and although we didn’t keep a clean sheet, I’m glad to see goals from players who haven’t scored in the past,” “Doan and Kubo scored, and Mitoma is becoming more complete with his appearance,” and “It’s a pity that Asano missed his chance at the end. We’re still struggling up front,” etc.