Opening draw dismays Zaccheroni
Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni lamented his side's lack of cutting edge after it took a last-minute goal by Maya Yoshida to rescue a 1-1 draw against Jordan in their opening game of the AFC Asian Cup at Qatar Sports Club Stadium on Sunday.
Jordan stunned their opponents - ranked 75 places higher in the world - when Abdel Fattah's shot from the edge of the area struck the boot of Yoshida to loop into the back of the net just before half-time. Japan rallied after the break but struggled to fashion many clear-cut opportunities and it looked as though Zaccheroni's first competitive game in charge of the Blue Samurai was to end in defeat.
However, Yoshida spared his coach's blushes when he headed home a cross from Wolfsburg's Makoto Hasebe in stoppage time to ensure the Group B clash ended honours even. Japan are bidding for a fourth Asian Cup title in Doha and Zaccheroni acknowledged the need for improvement if they are to make that a reality.
"I am not satisfied with the result. Japan controlled the match over the 90 minutes while Jordan played defensively," said the former Juventus coach. "It was the opening match and I knew it would be difficult. I knew we did not have much space on the pitch, so to cope with that we needed to speed up our play.
"I could not imagine this result, of course, because we always play to win matches and that is how we prepared ourselves. They [Jordan] scored first and from that they gained confidence against us. That goal influenced the match."
Jordan coach Adnan Hamad was understandably disappointed with the result after seeing his side just seconds away from a famous victory.
"We were very close to getting the three points but the Japanese team took that from us in the last minute," said the Iraqi. "But we cannot deny the performance of the Japanese team. I already stated before the match that I was happy to play them in the first match. It was a tough game for us but it should give us a boost for coming matches."