Perfect Japan thrash Syria 5-0

June 12, 2024
Japan's Ritsu Doan (centre) pictured alongside Syrian players during the joint 2026 FIFA World Cup Asian qualification and 2027 AFC Asian Cup qualification football match. — AFP/File

HIROSHIMA: Coach Hajime Moriyasu warned Japan that the final Asian qualifying round for the World Cup will be “a completely different level” after thrashing Syria 5-0 on Tuesday to go through with a 100 percent record.


Moriyasu´s side completed the second qualifying stage for 2026 on maximum points with 24 goals scored and none conceded after another easy win in Hiroshima.

Strikes from Ayase Ueda, Ritsu Doan and a Syria own goal in the first half put Japan in the driving seat before Yuki Soma scored a penalty and Takumi Minamino notched a fifth late on.

Japan are looking to qualify for their eighth straight World Cup when the tournament takes place in the US, Canada and Mexico.

But Moriyasu, who led Japan to wins over Germany and Spain at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, warned it would not be easy. “We were facing a team that had to win, and the players got the result by working hard to prepare, doing the things that they had to do,” said the coach.

“But the final round coming up will be a completely different level from the second round.”

The result meant Syria can only advance to the next round of qualifying if Myanmar beat North Korea later in the evening.

North Korea would go through at Syria´s expense if they secured at least a draw against bottom-of-the-group Myanmar.

Japan clinched their place in the final phase without kicking a ball in March when FIFA said their away game against North Korea would not be rescheduled.

North Korea were supposed to stage the game in the capital Pyongyang but, five days beforehand, officials abruptly said the isolated country could not play host, without giving a reason.

Playing in Hiroshima for the first time in 20 years, they wasted little time in giving the crowd something to cheer.

Keito Nakamura, who scored twice in Japan´s 5-0 away win over Myanmar last week, dribbled down the left before crossing the ball in for Ueda to head home in the 13th minute.

Doan, who was also on target against Myanmar, made it two six minutes later when he cut inside before rifling home a left-footed shot from the edge of the box.

Japan scored again in the 21st minute when Takefusa Kubo caused panic in the Syria defence and forced an own goal from defender Thaer Krouma.

The goals dried up until Soma notched a fourth from the penalty spot in the 73rd minute after Abdul Rahman Weiss brought him down in the box. Monaco forward Minamino curled home a fifth with five minutes remaining.