JAPAN’S smartest strategy not to start with their European-based players against Germany significantly contributed to the sensational 2-1 win over four-time champions Germany, says Jita Singh.
The award-winning Singapore coach was surprised that Takumi Minamino (Monaco), Takuma Asano (Bochum), Kaoru Mitoma (Brighton), Takehiro Tomiyasu (Arsenal) and Ritsu Daon ( Freiburg) were missing from the starting line-up.
“They only came in the second half when Japan was at 1-1. This could be the coach’s sharp strategy,” said Jita, who watched the match with his family at the Khalifa Stadium. “The game changed and Japan matched the highly-fancied Germans. In fact, Daon scored the equaliser and Asano clinched the winner.”
To add to the ironical storyline, both Doan and Asano play in the German Bundesliga (Germany’s professional league).
Japan manager Hajime Moriyasu praised: “The players came together as one team, we prepared well and we stuck in there, and that’s what led to the win.”
Now Germany’s World Cup future is once again on the line, with games to come in Group ‘E’ against Spain and Costa Rica. And they may be booted out!
“We made it too easy for Japan. I don’t know if an easier goal has ever been scored at a World Cup,” Germany coach Hansi Flick told Germany’s ARD TV network. “This must not happen to us.”
The blunt truth is Germany never took their overwhelming dominance after they dominated the first half, says former Home United coach Robert Albert, now coaching in Indonesia’s Persib Bandung. “They paid the most embarrassing price,” he added.
The German team, rather cheekily, even covered their mouths for the team photo before the match in a powerful protest against Fifa’s decision to ban rainbow-themed armbands.
Flick’s side took the lead through a first-half penalty from Ilkay Gundogan and should have been out of sight after creating a host of chances.
But the gutsy Japan comeback was simply out of this world in the clearest signal that Asia is waking up (after Saudi Arabia’s startling 2-1 win over Argentina earlier in the week).
* Suresh Nair is an award-winning sports journalist who is also a qualified international coach and international referee instructor
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