Halilhodzic commends “brave” Asano

Halilhodzic commends “brave” Asano

Japan coach Vahid Halilhodzic had mixed praise for his team following their 7-2 win over Bulgaria on Friday night in the Kirin Cup 2016 semifinal.

The victory at Toyota Stadium featured plenty of goal-scoring but also exposed problems with the team’s defending, particularly in the second half.

“Offensively it was a terrific match,” Halilhodzic told reporters. “We wanted the players to move the ball quickly with one- and two-touch passing, and the goals were fantastic.

“I want to applaud them, but I’m disappointed in the two goals we surrendered. Maybe we slacked off, maybe we weren’t serious enough, but you don’t always finish ideally. But we’re on a good path, and if we continue on that path we’ll play well in [FIFA World Cup] qualifying.”

Halilhodzic also reserved some of his compliments for Sanfrecce Hiroshima striker Takuma Asano, who scored his first senior goal from the penalty spot late in the match.

“Even as a substitute he was ready to take the kick,” the Bosnian said. “He’s a very brave person. I’ve been keeping track of him for over a year. He was struggling to earn a starting role at Sanfrecce, but I’ve been very interested in his power towards the back.

“I’m happy with how he played and tonight he showed that he’ll be able to score goals.”