Japan coach dedicates win to Hokkaido quake victims

Japan defender Sho Sasaki (centre) and his team-mates celebrating their first goal against Costa Rica during their friendly in Osaka.
Japan defender Sho Sasaki (centre) and his team-mates celebrating their first goal against Costa Rica during their friendly in Osaka.PHOTO: REUTERS

OSAKA • New Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu paid tribute to victims of the Hokkaido earthquake after he got off to a 3-0 winning start over Costa Rica yesterday.

"The players did good preparation and they delivered their thoughts to the people who are suffering the hardships in the whole country," the 50-year-old, appointed after the World Cup, said in a post-match interview.

"I think the players really fought and ran (for Japan)."

Sho Sasaki's header was turned into his own goal by Bryan Oviedo after 16 minutes before second-half goals from Takumi Minamino and substitute Junya Ito settled a one-sided friendly at the Panasonic Stadium Suita.

Japan's first outing since their surprise run to the last 16 of this summer's World Cup under former coach Akira Nishino had been scheduled to take place against Chile in Sapporo last Friday.

However, that game was cancelled after an earthquake struck the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido a day earlier, leaving at least 40 people dead.

Moriyasu also said that he is looking forward to a successful tenure with the Samurai Blue. "I just started, so I always want to aim for growth and the top," he said.

In Suwon yesterday, hosts South Korea, who beat Costa Rica 2-0 on Friday, drew 0-0 with Chile.

Coach Paulo Bento, overseeing just his second match in charge of the Taeguk Warriors, was proven right when he said on Monday the Koreans needed to face tougher opponents to know where they stand.

Chile are 12th in the Fifa world rankings, 45 spots higher than South Korea. Costa Rica are 32nd.

Bento's men found it difficult to cope with Arturo Vidal, with the 31-year-old Barcelona star pulling the strings in midfield.

The Chilean defence also stood firm and disrupted the few Korean attempts inside the box.

"It was a very good match, it was a draw which I do not think it was unusual," Bento said. "Chile has consistently maintained a consistent level over the years, with excellent and experienced players.

"I tried to play a game that dominated my opponent for 90 minutes. But both teams had good chances."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2018, with the headline 'Japan coach dedicates win to Hokkaido quake victims'. Print Edition | Subscribe