We should have scored more goals, says Japan coach

Japan coach Vahid Halilhodzic believed his side should beaten Singapore by a bigger scoreline, despite running out resounding 3-0 winners at the National Stadium on Thursday night. 

The ‘revenge’ mission is well and truly completed for Halilhodzic and his men as they ran out 3-0 winners against Singapore courtesy of goals of Mu Kanazaki, Keisuke Honda and Maya Yoshida.

However the Japan coach admitted he wanted to see more goals from the Samurai Blue.

“I’m very happy with the victory, but we can do better,” said the 63-year-old said at the post-match press conference.

“In the first half, we played with ambition which is better than other games and scored two goals. In the second half, our rhythm decreased because of the humidity.

“We created many chances overall, but it was a speedy pitch on which it’s difficult to control the ball and we had to play with more one-touch passing,

“But we expected more goals and should have scored three more.”

One of the key reasons why the visitors could not score more was down to yet another brilliant performance by Singapore goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud. 

While there was no 18-save feat this time round, the 25-year-old did whatever he could between the sticks to thwart the Japanese attackers and was not to be blamed for any of the three goals.

“I have to say the goalkeeper had a big game again tonight and I congratulated him personally after the game,” said Halilhodzic.

“I don’t know how many (potential) goals he stopped in these two games (including the 0-0 draw in Saitama).”

While the Lions failed to replicate the gutsy display which saw them coming away from Saitama with a point in June, Halilhodzic was impressed with how they came out fighting in the second half after going two goals down.

“Well, this is the first time Singapore had created some chances against us,” said the Franco-Bosnian.  

“The chances all came from crosses on our left side with dangerous heading. They were dangerous on counter-attacks and set plays after our discipline decreased in the second half.”

While many had expected big guns like Shinji Kagawa and Shinji Okazaki to start this game, Halilhodzic sprang a surprise by opting for the lesser-heralded names of Yoshinori Muto and Kanazaki.

The duo repaid the coach’s faith, with the latter scoring his first-ever international goal. Kagawa eventually came off the bench with 10 minutes to go, while Okazaki did not feature throughout.

Halilhodzic hinted that it is something he may do more in the future.

“I’m searching for the best solution for my team and that take some risks,” he said.

“Kagawa only joined us in Singapore on Tuesday night, that’s why we rested him initially and used him in the second half.

“I gave some players the chance to express themselves and I will do it again.”

Photo: Weixiang Lim/FourFourTwo