‘There were no miracles,’ says Shin Tae-yong-ho as Indonesia crushed by Japan in Round of 16

Indonesia’s national soccer team is facing the prospect of being eliminated in the round of 16 after a tough loss to Japan.

Tae Yong Shin’s men fell 1-3 to Japan in their final Group D match of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) 2023 Asian Cup on Thursday (July 24) at the Altumama Stadium in Doha, Qatar.

With the loss, Indonesia finished third in the group with a record of 1-2-2-3 (Goal Difference -3). Without a top-two finish, they cannot qualify for the round of 16 on their own.

They need to finish in the top four of the six teams in each group. However, Group B third-place Syria and Group C third-place Palestine already have four points and are ahead of Indonesia. Both teams have already qualified for the round of 16, ahead of third-place China (2 points) and third-place Indonesia (2 points).

Indonesia will need a miracle to reach the round of 16. Either Bahrain loses by a large margin in their Group E match against Jordan on Friday, or the two teams draw in their Group F match against Oman and Kyrgyzstan, leaving Indonesia with just one point to dramatically punch their ticket to the round of 16. Group A third-place China has already been eliminated.

Indonesia could have reached the round of 16 on their own if they drew with Japan. But Japan was too strong. Japan opened the scoring just six minutes into the first half. Ayase Ueda (Feyenoord) was brought down by Indonesian defender Hordi Amat (Darul) inside the penalty box. After a video assistant referee (VAR) review, the referee awarded a foul and a penalty kick. Ueda stepped up to take the penalty kick and rattled the Indonesian net with a powerful shot.

With the 1-0 lead, Japan continued their one-sided offense, but were unable to score another goal. In the 35th minute, Keito Nakamura (Stade de Reims) had a shot that hit the post.

However, Japan scored back-to-back goals in the second half. Seven minutes into the second half, Ueda calmly finished a pass from Doan Ritsu (Freiburg) on the left flank. He then added an own goal in the 43rd minute to put the game out of reach.

Indonesia didn’t give up until the end. Sandy Walsh (Mechelen), who plays in the Belgian first division, scored a late consolation goal, but it wasn’t enough to turn the game around.

Indonesia, ranked 146th in the FIFA rankings, had a tough task in reaching the round of 16, but Shin Tae-yong’s strategy paid off.

Despite being rated as the underdogs, they managed to beat Southeast Asian rivals Vietnam 1-0 to claim three points. However, back-to-back 1-3 losses to Iraq and Japan in the same group threatened to end the tournament early.

The match between Iraq and Vietnam at the same time was a hard-fought 3-2 victory in favor of Iraq. With the win, Iraq clinched first place in the group with a 3-1 record and 9 points. Japan finished second with a 2-1 record and 6 points.

If South Korea can clinch the top spot in Group E after their game against Malaysia on Friday, they will meet Japan in the round of 16.

Korea’s head coach Jürgen Klinsmann traveled to the stadium to watch Japan’s game, along with assistant coach Andreas Herzog and goalkeeping coach Andreas Köpke.

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