Sta­j­cic stunned as Ja­pan curse strikes again

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - FOOTBALL -

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

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