Despite being 2-0 down with under 30 minutes to play in the AFC U23 Championship final, Japan’s coach, Makoto Teguramori, says that his side were never out of the contest.
Japan won the AFC U23 Championship on Saturday when they were forced to come from behind after trailing South Korea by two goals with only 23 minutes remaining in the match.
While many might see the unlikely victory as nothing short of a miracle, Teguramori says that he always felt his side were still in the contest.
“I never thought we were completely defeated because I knew if we could control the ball we could endure and still manage the game,” said the former Vegalta Sendai coach.
“I was feeling that we were dictating the game in the second-half and I knew that we had enough key players who could move us forward. So I was pretty calm.
“It was a really dramatic game and it’s great we won the Asian title.
“I told the players today that we should show everyone our bravery and move the Japanese fans. I’m really glad that we have achieved this objective.”
Despite this triumph, Teguramori is adamant that the team still needs to make great strides if they are to achieve similar success at the Olympics later this year.
“In order to participate at the Olympic games, we need to improve every aspect of our team,” he said.
“I’m aware that both offensively and in defence, we have to improve. There’s more to do to improve this team.”