• Defending champions under pressure
    22:10 | 04/05/2014

    Coach Miguel Rodrigo is looking forward to Japan’s must-win meeting with Kyrgyzstan on Monday despite the defending champions facing elimination from the AFC Futsal Championship.


    Japan had seemingly made their intentions clear in Vietnam following a 12-0 win over Korea Republic in their Group D opener only to lose 2-1 to Uzbekistan on Saturday after conceding with just under eight seconds remaining.

    And with Kyrgyzstan beating Korea Republic to add to their opening draw with Uzbekistan, two-time champions Japan find themselves a point adrift of the table-topping Central Asian pair heading into Monday’s meeting at Phu Tho Stadium.

    “It is a final for us, but I love these types of games as every game is win-or-die. We have a young group who lack experience, but they have a lot of motivation, and playing in this type of game will be a good experience,” said Japan coach Rodrigo.

    “We will look to play the same way as we did against Uzbekistan, but try to commit fewer errors.

    “We will look to score as soon as possible and shut down their counterattack.”

    Kyrgyzstan beat Korea 4-1 thanks to two goals from Rustam Ermekov having scored twice in the final three minutes to share a 2-2 draw with Uzbekistan, and now just need a point against Japan to secure a seventh consecutive appearance in the knockout stage.

    “Japan are a strong team who are the champions. I know the coach very well and he uses good tactics,” said Kyrgyzstan coach Rustam Isaev with his side looking for revenge having lost to Japan in the quarter-finals of the last three editions of the AFC Futsal Championship as well as the 2007 semi-finals.

    “But we also have a good team and I think it will be a good game for our young team to play Japan. And I think we can manage it.”

    Three-time finalists Uzbekistan also need to simply avoid defeat against Korea at Ton Duc Thang University Stadium to secure an 11th consecutive appearance in the knockout stage after Artur Yunusov’s header with just under eight seconds remaining saw Bahodir Ahmedov’s side edge out Japan.

    “We respect Korea because we have played them many times and they always show their character,” said Ahmedov.

    “And even though they have lost two games, they will try to beat us.

    “We will try to get first place in our group and qualify for the next round, but it will be a tough game.”

    Korea are the only side unable to advance following back-to-back defeats, although Raul Gonzalez’s side did show significant improvements against Kyrgyzstan before two late goals ended hopes of a fightback after Shin Jong-hoon had struck with nine minutes remaining.

    “We will follow the same plan as from the start, and that is to improve all aspects,” said Korea coach Gonzalez.

    “The game against Uzbekistan is one more game for us and we will look to improve.”

    According to AFC

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