Bangkok, Thailand: Qatar coach Felix Sanchez claimed his team’s inability to keep possession was a key factor in their exit from the AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020 as the two-time semi-finalists missed out on the last eight as a result of their 1-1 draw with Japan on Wednesday.
A point was not enough for Sanchez’s side to climb above either Saudi Arabia or Syria and into the top two places in Group B, leaving the Qataris to pack their bags and head home along with the Japanese.
Abdullah al-Ahrak’s penalty secured the draw for the Qataris after Japan, who had been reduced to 10 men following Ao Tanaka’s sending off in first half injury time, had taken the lead through a long range strike from Koki Ogawa.
“We know Japan and how they like to play, to have possession and they display their way to play,” said the AFC Asian Cup-winning Spanish coach. “I think we were quite well organised.
“But we missed to keep a little more the ball, which was difficult for us. For all of the tournament it was the same problem, in many phases of the game.”
“In the second half, playing against 10 men and with us needing to win the game, we tried to be more offensive and I think one individual mistake cost us one goal, but the team kept pushing and we could score.
“We have to congratulate the players because they were pushing until the last moment to try get the result to give us the opportunity to play in the quarter-finals. We couldn’t do it this time, but it was a good experience for the players because we have a very young team.”
Hajime Moriyasu’s side went into the game with only pride to play for, having been eliminated from the competition due to defeats at the hands of Saudi Arabia and Syria.
But the Japanese put on a determined show to eke out a draw despite playing the entire second half with 10 men.
“We started well and in the first half we had some chances and the players were aggressive towards the opponents’ goal, and it was the same in defence,” said the former Sanfrecce Hiroshima head coach.
“In the second half, we were missing a player but the players talked to each other at half time and said they wanted to make the situation better. This spirit led them to the first goal, but unfortunately the game ended in a draw.
“But the players showed their pride and their toughness as well as their spirit to fight until the last minute. The result of the tournament is disappointing, but we want to learn from this for the better development for the future.”