Vahid Halilhodzic has indicated that Japan’s win over UAE would have been nothing if they do not beat Thailand next in 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying.
Speaking after the Samurai Blue’s strong 2-0 win at Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium, the trainer praised a “beautiful” performance and hailed his men’s control of the encounter.
Halilhodzic also praised goalscorer Yasuyuki Konno but is keeping an eye out for Thailand, urging his players to continue their progress to Russia 2018 with a win.
“It [the result against UAE] was a beautiful win for Japan,” he told reporters. “The players controlled the match and listened to my strategic advice. There were two or three dangerous moments but we were the better team.
“I’m proud of my players and want to congratulate them as well as UAE who played a fine match.
“Konno played fantastically. I started to get ideas after watching his most recent matches for Gamba Osaka.
“He was basically flawless, forcing turnovers and scoring a goal. As I previously said, we needed experienced players for this match and Konno delivered.
“If we don’t beat Thailand, today’s win against UAE becomes worthless. That’s what I told the players and we have to work hard and prepare for this next match.
“If we continue these results the gates to the World Cup should open up for us, but we’re focused on winning one match at a time.”