Stajcic stunned as Japan curse strikes again
MATILDAS coach Alen Stajcic was justifiably stunned by Japan’s smash and grab 1-0 AFC Asian Cup final win at Amman Stadium yesterday.
The Matildas boss had seen his sides suffer at the hands of the Japanese three times in major tournaments since 2014 when he first led the side at the Asian Cup in Vietnam.
Japan inflicted three 1-0 losses upon Australia — two in Asian Cup finals and one at the 2015 FIFA World Cup in Canada- but this one made little sense to Stajcic.
“For me it was our best performance of the tournament, football is a cruel game sometimes,’’ Stajcic said.
“On Tuesday night we were pretty poor against Thailand and somehow we got a win out of it in the semi-final but somehow against Japan we didn’t get the rewards we deserved. We worked for six or seven months for this and we had to put our chances away, again I couldn’t be any happier in the way we played. To pretty much dominate from the first minute to the 90th minute it was just one of those games against a world class opponent.”
Kumi Yokoyama’s name will be forever etched in the memory of Staj- cic and his 23 Matildas after she scored the winner six minutes before time with a strike which gave keeper Lydia Williams absolutely no chance.
“We did everything else bar finding the cutting edge in and around the penalty box and that’s probably what cost us the Asian Cup,’’ Stajcic said.
“Now we’re got to regroup in the US and it’s good preparation for the World Cup next year.”
Japan edged the Matildas. Picture: AFP