Japan, Indonesia look to qualify for knockout round on Wednesday

Japan, Indonesia look to qualify for knockout round on Wednesday

QLNews
By QLNews

When Iraq take on Vietnam in their last Group D game of the 2023 AFC Asian Cup at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium on Wednesday, the two teams will be having vastly different thoughts in their minds.

While Iraq, who has already qualified for the knockout rounds, will be playing for an all-win record, winless Vietnam will be keen to go out on a high.

The game between Japan and Indonesia, which will be played at the same time at the Al thumama Stadium, will be crucial for both sides as each try to qualify for the next round.

Here is a look at how the teams are poised ahead of their last group-stage encounter.

GROUP D
IRAQ VS VIETNAM

Kick-off: 2:30pm
Venue: Jassim bin Hamad Stadium

Head coach Philippe Troussier believes his Vietnam side has shown much improvement despite being eliminated from the group stage of the AFC Asian Cup ahead of their final Group D game against Iraq on Wednesday.

The Golden Star Warriors go into the match at Jassim bin Hamad Stadium with no points to their name, having fallen to a 4-2 defeat against Japan before being edged 1-0 by Indonesia in the second match; a result which meant even a win against the Lions of Mesopotamia cannot take them out of fourth place.

“Before our game against Iraq, we’re already out of the competition on head-to-head. It’s a pity, but that’s what it’s,” said Troussier.

“We’ve two main motivations; one’s to respect and honour our flag and our nation and present a good image of Vietnamese football against Iraq, and the other is that we’ve in the near future a big challenge, which is the qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup 2026 where we’ve two important matches against Indonesia home and away in March, and this match is a great opportunity to prepare for these two games."

“Even though we lost both games, I can see a lot of improvement — especially in maturity in terms of control of the ball and not being afraid,” he added.

For Iraq, the match presents an opportunity to end the group stage with the full nine points for the first time in their history and to secure the top spot ahead of Japan, but head coach Jesus Casas also sees it as an opportunity to continue improving.

The Lions of Mesopotamia started their journey with a 3-1 victory over Indonesia, before stunning Japan 2-1 in the second match to book their place in the Round of 16.

“When you’re on the field, all players want to win, that includes both teams, so it’ll be a difficult game for sure,” said Casas.

“I think it’s an important match. Regardless of the fact we’re already qualified, all matches are important for us because we can improve each time. We need to show our best performance and best style,” he added.

 

GROUP D
JAPAN VS INDONESIA

Kick-off: 2:30pm
Venue: Al Thumama Stadium

Indonesia have a realistic chance of creating history by reaching the knockout stage of the AFC Asian Cup for the first time but head coach Shin Tae-yong is adamant that his team will take their match against Japan as they would any other tie. 

“Obviously, Japan are the number one team. It’s a difficult match for us, but we want to perform and I want to show that Indonesian football is developing. We’ve a lot of scenarios to get into the Round of 16. We’ll focus on the game and how we’ll approach it,” said Shin.

“The Iraqi team and the Indonesian team have a lot of differences. I’m going to approach the match against Japan with a different method (to what Iraq did).”

The defeat against Iraq hasn’t derailed Japan from targeting a fifth AFC Asian Cup title with head coach Hajime Moriyasu saying his players have refocused.

“We may’ve lost the last match but my players are fully focused and prepared to play Indonesia,” said Moriyasu. “We’re in this together and we’ll try to go for victory.”

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