The hosts dominated the game the entire match and their narrow victory did not reflect the complexion of the match
Japanese winger Takefusa Kubo admits his side struggled against South Africa in their 1-0 Group A win at Ajinomoto Stadium.
The Real Madrid starlet was ‘relieved’ that he finally managed to break South Africa in a dominant display that almost turned into a disappointment due to a list of missed opportunities.
Kubo’s 71st minute goal decided the game.
It was a contest in which Japan could have won by a bigger margin if they had been clinical in front of goal.
“I’m relieved now. I’m happy and relieved. I thought I would have to score a goal for the team to score a goal,” Kubo said after the game.
“I scored the goal and the team won. I am very happy. South Africa was a good team. The South African players looked in good shape.
Throughout the match, Japan threatened to win by a high score, but they ended up being limited to a slim victory.
In addition to losing a number of chances, Japan also faced strong defense from South Africa.
Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu echoed Kubo’s feelings that they have had a tough 90 minutes as South Africa foiled their “more goals” ambitions.
“We wanted to score more goals if possible. I think the Japanese players understood that there is no easy game, ”said Moriyasu.
The Japan captain is veteran defender Maya Yoshida who spent seven years playing Premier League football with Southampton.
The Sampdoria defender has led a group of young players eager to win gold as hosts.
Yoshida believes they can perform better than against South Africa as they now prepare to meet Group A leaders Mexico in their next game on Sunday.
“We managed to keep a goal. Originally, we are a team that can perform better. We should have played with more confidence from the start. By winning this game, the next [match] I think the team will be better, ”said Yoshida.
Japan will face Mexico on Sunday and South Africa will play against France.