Football powerhouse Japan crushed India 5-0 to move into the Asian Games quarter-finals on today where they were joined by Korea DPR who edged past Vietnam 2-0. They stay in the gold medal hunt along with four-time champions Iran, triple winners Korea Republic, Uzbekistan and Oman who made the last eight on yesterday.
Japan will tackle Thailand, managed by former England captain Bryan Robson, who edged Turkmenistan 1-0 for a place in the semi-finals. Korea DPR meet the United Arab Emirates who won a bad-tempered clash with local rivals Kuwait 2-0.
On paper India are the better Asian Games team, having won titles in 1951 and 1962 and a bronze medal in 1970 while Japan is still seeking a maiden Asiad gold. But paper doesn't tell the full story, with India failing to fire since then while Japan has become one of Asia's top footballing nations.
They maintained their impressive 100 per cent record here with a brace by FIFA World Cup™ star Kensuke Nagai and goals from Ryohei Yamazaki, Kazuya Yamamura and Kota Mizunuma.
Nagai opened their account with a tidy finish on 17 minutes while Yamazaki buried a rebound 11 minutes later after the Indian defence weakly cleared the ball off the line. The writing was on the wall for India and Yamamura struck a hammer blow in the dying seconds of the first half when he headed home a Keigo Higashi cross.
Nagai got his second soon after the restart as the floodgates opened, with Kota Mizunuma grabbing the fifth in the 63rd minute before the Indian defence sorted themselves out to prevent an embarrassing scoreline.
"We rarely play against India, so we had some concerns about their tactics," said Japan coach Takashi Sekizuka. "We are preparing for the Olympics here at the Asian Games. I am happy to see the team progressing."
Thailand reached the quarter-finals when Kirati Keawsombut scored an extra-time winner just minutes after Wichaya Dechmitr had been sent-off. Dechmitr had earlier missed a twice-taken penalty.
Korea DPR's clash with Vietnam was a much tighter affair, with Choe Kum-Chol 35th minute strike all that separated them for much of the match before Choe Myong-Ho converted a 91st minute penalty to seal the win.
The UAE defeated Gulf rivals Kuwait 2-0 with Hamdan Al Kamali, with a 67th-minute penalty, and an Abdulla Bloushi strike three minutes from time securing the win in a bad-tempered game where Kuwait's Mashari Al Azmi was red-carded.