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Japan captain wary of Vietnam before World Cup qualifiers

By Hoang An   November 10, 2021 | 11:02 pm PT
Japan captain wary of Vietnam before World Cup qualifiers
Captain of Japan national football team Mayo Yoshida. Photo by Reuters
Mayo Yoshida wants Japan to stay cautious when facing Vietnam in their World Cup qualifying clash Thursday.

"I don’t think Vietnam are a weak team. They have many skilled and quick players. The first thing is not to let them get too excited as they have the home advantage. We have to be careful. Like every game, the important thing is not to concede first. However, since we need three points, we have to put the defensive line higher," Yoshida told Japanese newspaper Nikkan Sports.

The captain also wants Japan to use their physical advantage in set-pieces.

"In the second round of World Cup qualifiers, we have scored a couple of goals from set-pieces. At my club Sampdoria, I often feel like I can score in the air. Many Japanese players are taller than Vietnam’s. I don’t know if this is their weakness or not," he added.

According to German football site Transfermarkt, the average height of 28 Japan players in this game is 1.79 meters, or 4 centimeters higher than Vietnam’s. In each of the last four games, Vietnam had conceded a goal from aerial duels.

Liverpool’s attacking midfielder Takumi Minamino also worried about the upcoming game with Vietnam.

"I still remember Vietnam were really tough to play when we faced them in Asian Cup 2019. Their level has increased since Asian Cup, but so has Japan's. Vietnam play with five defenders so Japan will have a lot of difficulties. It’s really hard to attack with an opponent like that," Minamino told Nikkan Sports.

Minamino and 10 other Japanese players competing in Europe arrived in Hanoi on Tuesday night after their flight was delayed.

"I don’t know what happened to the airplane, but I had to wait 24 hours for this flight. Our training time was shortened and we had many difficulties. But this is not an excuse because Japan have no other choice but to win against Vietnam," he added.

Japan have lost two matches so far and they cannot afford to drop more points when playing Vietnam, who’s at the bottom of group B. But the Golden Dragons have the home advantage, with the support of over 10,000 fans.

The game will take place at 7 p.m. in Hanoi's My Dinh Stadium and will be reported live on VnExpress International.

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