Copa America 2019

Japan denied a win: Troussier

Former coach lauds 'united and aggressive' U-23 side after gritty 2-2 draw with Uruguay

PORTO ALEGRE • Former Japan coach Philippe Troussier believes the team are on the right track for next year's Tokyo Olympics, after they were denied a historic Copa America win over Uruguay following a questionable call by the video assistant referee (VAR) system.

Troussier, who helmed Japan when they were last invited to the South American championship in 1999, praised the Hajime Moriyasu-led side on social media following their 2-2 draw with Oscar Tabarez's team in Porto Alegre on Thursday.

Japan took the lead through Koji Miyoshi - only for Luis Suarez to level the scores from the penalty spot. The referee used VAR to determine that Edinson Cavani had been fouled in the area by Japan defender Naomichi Ueda.

"Good game for Japan," Troussier posted on Twitter.

"New team, but united and aggressive. Penalty was not fair... Cavani kicked Ueda's foot, not Ueda kicked Cavani's foot."

Japan, who have sent a squad largely made up of young players vying for spots in the Under-23 team at the Tokyo Games, retook the lead when Miyoshi scored again in the second half.

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  • Japan's Koji Miyoshi is the first player to score a brace against Uruguay in the Copa America since 2004.

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  • Uruguay have accounted for three of the five shots that have hit the post in this Copa America.

But Jose Gimenez equalised in the 66th minute for Uruguay to share the points.

"Do not forget that this is the Olympic team of Japan, players without international experience in a good Copa America," added Troussier. "Japan played uncomplicated, played to win."

Uruguay, on four points after two matches, now lead Group C by a point from Chile.

Japan are third on a single point, and a win over Ecuador on Monday could still be enough for them to advance to the knockout rounds.

"They wanted to win and that showed in the way they played," the Kyodo news agency quoted Moriyasu as saying after the game.

"They worked hard and went in for challenges. The (Uruguay goals) were unfortunate, but overall it was a great effort.

"If we win our next game, we'll have a good chance to advance from the group."

Barcelona striker Suarez felt that Uruguay did not take their chances, after he and Cavani both hit the woodwork.

"We have to correct mistakes and praise the positive things," he said. "We were the ones who created the most clear chances. That is why we left with a bittersweet feeling. We played a good game, but we have to know that in this kind of tournament you have two mistakes and they make two goals, you have to be more careful."

Despite Japan being the underdogs at the Gremio Stadium, Suarez also said that he was not surprised by the Asian side's impressive display.

"We knew that Japan's performance with Chile (4-0 loss on Monday) was not a true reflection," he added.

"They are quick, they have a lot of quality, they put pressure on us and they did not let us play well."



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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 22, 2019, with the headline 'Japan denied a win: Troussier'. Print Edition | Subscribe