Aguirre relieved to come through Iraq test
Japan coach Javier Aguirre was relieved to see off Iraq 1-0 in Friday's Asian Cup Group D encounter after witnessing his side spurn several clear-cut chances in Brisbane.
After defeating Palestine 4-0 in their tournament opener, Japan took firm control of the pool as Keisuke Honda's first-half penalty was enough for all three points at the Suncorp Stadium
However, the scoreline did not truly reflect the nature of Japan's dominance, with Honda wasting a gilt-edged chance when he somehow hit the post from close range with the goal gaping in the second half.
Honda drew plaudits for his all-round performance, though, and Mexican coach Aguirre was content with how his team performed.
"It was a very complicated game as Iraq defended well and we could not penetrate their defence," he said.
"While we had two or three chances we couldn't score, but I am very happy to get three points and no injuries.
"The team's rhythm in attack was better [than it was against Palestine] as there were more periods of effective one and two-touch play."
Aguirre also took the time to congratulate Gamba Osaka midfielder Yasuhito Endo, who earned his 150th cap for Japan.
"I will congratulate Endo on his 150th game and I thought he and [Shinji] Kagawa performed very well in their roles to combat Iraq's very good midfield. In attack they played even better," he added.
Japan will definitely qualify for the knockout stages if they avoid defeat to Jordan if their final group stage match.