|Việt Nam's pivo Nguyễn Minh Trí dribbles past Japanese players during Group D game at the Asian Futsal Cup on Sunday in Kuwait. Việt Nam lost 2-0 but still qualified for the quarter-finals. Photo courtesy of VFF|
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam will face powerhouse Iran in the Asian Futsal Cup's quarter-finals despite losing 0-2 to Japan in the last Group D match on Sunday in Kuwait.
The defeat pushed Việt Nam to the second place in the group while Japan jumped to the top as Saudi Arabia and South Korea were eliminated.
Iran in the latest match of Group C trounced Lebanon 9-0 to remain as group winner and prove their No 1 statue on the continental.
Japan will play Group C runners-up Indonesia who booked their spot after defeating Chinese Taipei 4-1 on Sunday.
Japan was in third place prior to the match and their target was clear. Only a win could help them to continue in the tournament. And the three-times champions were almost ahead in the opening minute at the Saad Al Abdullah Hall but Tomoki Yoshikawa was denied by goalkeeper Hồ Văn Ý.
The world top 10 goalkeeper of 2021 had only conceded two goals in Việt Nam's previous two matches including an own goal by teammate Châu Đoàn Phát.
The custodian and the bar also stopped other attempts from Japanese players including captain Arthur Oliveira, Neto Antonio Hirata, Shimizu Kazuya, Kentaro Ishida and Sora Kanazawa throughout the match.
Japan finally found the opening goal when Kazuya collected Ishida’s cross at the edge of the box, before rounding Ý in the sixth minute.
But there was no stopping Kazuya, a former player of Việt Nam champions Thái Sơn Nam, in the 36th minute he brilliantly struck home from an acute angle after outmuscling Nhan Gia Hưng to seal the win for Japan.
Việt Nam struggled to find opportunities to narrow the score. In many of their attempts, Phát did force Japanese keeper Higor Pires into making a top save after a crackling strike from distance. Meanwhile other attacks were broken by Japan's smart and skilled players from all angles.
“When the score is 1-0, we switched to power play with a view to manage more ball possession, because we wanted to finish the group in first place," said Việt Nam head coach Diego Giustozzi at the post-match press conference.
"Later, we conceded another goal, power play was expected to help us score at least one goal. It means we were still the top team.
"Players could not keep their calm and bravery after conceding goals. I think it is a problem that I have to work on and solve it."
The Argentinean tactician said his team played well in the group stage and it was time for plan for the quarter-finals as defending champions Iran were a tough rival for Việt Nam.
"We have only one day off and then play the quarters. We have to really focus for the match. Iran's strength is not in doubt. They scored 24 goals while conceded only one in Group C. They have earned 12 championship titles in 15 tournaments," Giustozzi said.
In their latest meet at the Continental Futsal Championship two weeks ago in Thailand, Việt Nam lost 1-3.
However, Giustozzi still believed in his players and hoped that they would believe in themselves and teammates.
A bonus of VNĐ 500 million (US$21,000) from the Việt Nam Football Federation for the team's quarter-final slot will be a push for them ahead of the match today.
Other matches will be between Thailand and Tajikistan, Indonesia and Japan, and Uzbekistan and Kuwait. VNS