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Asian Cup 2019: 3 reasons why Japan could win the title

Avik Roy
SENIOR ANALYST
Feature
01 Jan 2019, 23:01 IST

#2 Recent form in international matches

2018 has been a great football year for the Japanese national team
2018 has been a great football year for the Japanese national team

2018 has been a great football year for the Japanese national team. The year, though, did not start well with a draw against Ghana, followed up by three consecutive losses against Ukraine, Ghana, and Switzerland in the build-up to the World Cup.

Questions started to arise with the then coach Akira Nishino about his team selection and technical mindset. However, a 4-2 win over Paraguay in a friendly before the World Cup restored some faith in the national team.

No one thought Japan would produce a mesmerizing performance in the World Cup. In their first group match against Colombia, Japan not only defeated them 2-1 but created history by becoming the first Asian country to beat a South American country.

Japan continued the same form in the next match against Senegal with a fighting 2-2 draw before losing to Poland in the following match. Japan qualified for the next round by virtue of fair play.

They produced their best performance of the tournament against hot favorites Belgium by scoring two early second-half goals. However, inexperience prevented them a win as they couldn't hold onto their lead and conceded goals in the dying moments of the match.

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