If only it wasn’t for the penalty that was conceded in the second minute. Shin Tae-yong’s Indonesia held their own against an overmatched Japan side.

The Indonesians fell to Japan 1-0 in their final Group D match at the Qatar Asian Cup at the Altumama Stadium in Doha, Qatar on Thursday (July 24). A penalty kick conceded too early in the match made it difficult for the hosts, but Indonesia refused to give up hope and continued to harass Japan. They even scored a precious late consolation goal in stoppage time to keep their chances of advancing to the Round of 16 alive.

Indonesia faced Japan in a 5-4-1 formation. Given the objective power differential, the best case scenario for Indonesia would have been a 0-0 draw. Indonesia set up a tight two-row defense from the start.

Japan came out in a 4-3-3. Compared to the first and second games, the defense was significantly reshuffled and a more aggressive lineup was brought out. It was clear that the team was determined to turn the tournament around from the loss to Iraq with a dominant win over Indonesia.

Japan was led by Ayase Ueda (Feyenoord Rotterdam), with Doan Ritsu (Freiburg) and Keito Nakamura (Stade Reims) leading the attack. In the midfield were Takefusa Kubo (Real Sociedad), Wataru Endo (Liverpool), and Leo Hatate (Celtic). The back four was made up of Seiya Maikuma (Cerezo Osaka), Takehiro Tomiyasu (Arsenal), Koki Machida (Rouaye Winion Saint-Gilles), and Yuta Nakayama (Huddersfield Town). In goal was Shion Suzuki (Sint-Truiden).

Indonesia’s dreams of an uprising were dashed as soon as the game began. Ueda held onto the ball just inside the penalty box. As Ueda turned around, he fell. Less than two minutes had passed. The referee initially didn’t call a foul. VAR review showed that Indonesian defender Jordi Amati brought Ueda down with his hand. A penalty kick was awarded.

Ueda calmly converted the penalty, and the game seemed to go Japan’s way. It was a relief to take the lead so early in the game.

Indonesia held up surprisingly well. It didn’t fall apart. Their physical defense kept Japan’s offense at bay. Japan had 76% possession in the first half, with seven shots on goal. However, only one was on target. If anything, Indonesia’s Marcelino Ferdinand sent shivers down the spine in the 29th minute when he completely disrupted the Japanese flank.

In the 52nd minute, Japan’s passing finally caught the defense off guard. They conceded a clean goal. In the 88th minute, there was an unfortunate own goal. Ueda’s shot wasn’t exactly on target, but defender Justin Herbner instinctively put his foot on it. The ball changed direction and crossed the goal line.

Indonesia didn’t give up until the end. They showed the tenacity that eventually resulted in a goal in second-half stoppage time. A long throw-in pass was played in and Sandy Walsh volleyed it into the back of the net for Japan.

Indonesia finished the group stage with a record of 1W, 2L, 3G, -3D, and third place in Group D. They will advance to the Round of 16 depending on the results of their remaining Group E and F matches.


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