CIKARANG: The Pakistan football team continued their poor run at Asian Games, this time losing to Japan in their Group ‘D’ match at the at the Wibawa Mukti Stadium on Thursday.
Three goals in the first 10 minutes saw Japan stroll to a 4-0 win over the Saddam Hussain-led U-23 side.
Having laboured to a 1-0 win over Nepal in their opening day clash on Tuesday, Japan were determined to make their chances count against Pakistan.
They enjoyed a dream start as Yuto Iwasaki gave them the lead just two minutes into the match.
After a well-timed run into the Pakistan box, Iwasaki exquistely controlled a pass from the deep on his chest and displayed briliant exposure to lob it over Pakistan goalkeeper Saqib Hanif.
It got even better as two goals a minute apart through Reo Hatate (ninth) and Daizen Madea (10th) left Pakistan with a mountain to climb.
Hatate, in a similar manner to Iwasaki, chest-controlled a cross from the left before making a cool finish past Hanif.
Madea once again demonstrated Japan’s attacking fluidity when he scored after a collecting a perfectly placed pass in the box following quick exchange of passes near the edge of the box.
The Samurai Blue relaxed their grip after racing to a 3-0 lead but there was to be a fourth before half time with Iwasaki scoring his second goal.
Pakistan managed to not concede in the second half which can be taken as a positive for the losing side which returned to the international football scenario after three-year absence due to infighting within the country’s football governing body.
Vietnam will face Japan on Sunday to determine the Group ‘D’ winners after defeating Nepal 2-0 to confirm their place in the knockout stage.
The 2018 AFC U23 runners-up had defeated Pakistan 3-0 on Tuesday and with Japan defeating the same opposition, both teams confirmed their places in the round-of-16.
Vietnam controlled play from the start against Nepal but only took the lead in the 31st minute with Nguyen Anh Duc their goalscorer.
Phan Van Duc then sealed the three points and a place in the knockout stage when he found the back of the net in the 64th minute.
In other matches on Thursday, Qatar beat Uzbekistan 0-6 while Bangladesh drew 1-1 with Thailand in Group ‘B’.
In Group ‘C’, Syria lost to China 3-0 and UAE beat Timor Leste 4-1.
Published in Dawn, August 17th, 2018