*** ----> Bahrain exit AFC Asian Cup following defeat to Japan | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

Bahrain exit AFC Asian Cup following defeat to Japan

TDT | Manama                                                     

The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com

Bahrain exited the AFC Asian Cup in Doha yesterday following a 1-3 defeat to Japan in the tournament’s round of 16.. Goals from Ritsu Doan, Takefusa Kubo, and Ayase Ueda helped decide the contest for the heavily favoured Japanese.

Bahrain’s lone goal came after Japan’s second on an error by Ueda, but their hopes of a comeback were short lived. With the result, the Japanese moved on to the quarter-finals, while the Bahrainis were booted out of the competition at the last 16 stage for the second straight edition.

The nationals had also lost out on a berth in the round of eight in 2019 following a defeat to South Korea after extra-time. For Bahrain head coach Juan Antonio Pizzi, it was his second successive defeat to Japan in the AFC Asian Cup’s round of 16. Also in 2019, when at the helm of Saudi Arabia, they were eliminated by the Japanese 0-1.

This year’s event was the seventh time the Kingdom’s senior men’s national team have competed in the continental showcase, organised and run by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). The only time Bahrain made it past the last 16 was in 2004 in China, when they narrowly missed out on a bronze medal after finishing fourth overall.

In 1988, 2007, 2011 and 2015, the nationals were eliminated from the group stage. In yesterday’s game at Al Thumama Stadium at the Qatari capital, Pizzi fielded a starting 11 that included Ebrahim Luthfallah in goal; Waleed Al Hayyam, Sayed Mahdi Baqer, Mohammed Adel and Hazza Ali in defence; Mohammed Al Hardan, Ali Madan, Mohammed Marhoon, Komail Al Aswad and Jassim Al Shaikh in midfield; and Abdulla Yusuf as the lone striker.


Lutfhallah made a brilliant save on an Ueda header following a cross in the 10th minute. Madan then had a good chance for Bahrain at around the halfhour mark, but his shot on target was parried away by diving Japanese goalkeeper Zion Suzuki. Shortly after, Japan opened their account in the 31st minute through Doan.

A shot by Seiya Maikuma from distance bounced off the left crossbar and rebounded towards Doan in the box. He was first to the ball and made no mistake with his attempt, which he slotted home in the face of goal past Lutfhallah. Doan’s strike was enough to send the Japanese into the half with the lead.

Just four minutes into the restart, they doubled their advantage with Kubo firing in with a left-footed shot. The Bahrainis had given up possession carelessly near their penalty area, and Kubo took full advantage, hitting into the bottom-right corner. The goal needed to be checked and was awarded after a VAR review.

The Japanese could have added to the score a couple of times after, but Bahrain were saved by the offside flag. The nationals then cut into the deficit with a gift from their opponents in the 64th minute. After a corner-kick by Al Aswad, Baqer sent a high header towards goal, and as Suzuki was about to punch the ball away, Ueda interfered and had a collision with his teammate.

They failed to clear and the ball found its way into the net, giving the Bahrainis some hope. But any chances of a late comeback were quickly ended after Ueda made up for his gaffe for a 3-1 advantage in the 72nd minute.

The Japan number nine outsmarted a group of Bahrain defenders and then sent in a fine low shot from the right of the box which went between the legs of Lutfhallah and into goal. Luthfallah prevented the Japanese from adding a fourth in the fourth minute of injury time, brilliantly stopping a Takuma Asano effort in a one-on-one.


Abdulla Yusuf makes an aerial challenge for possession against Japan’s Kou Itakura