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"Japan fully deserved to win every game"
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Sunday, 29 October, 2000, 19:45 GMT
Japan crowned kings of Asia
Tomokazu Myojin and Hamzah Idris
Tomokazu Myojin of Japan and Hamzah Idris of Saudi Arabia who missed from the penalty spot
Japan 1-0 Saudi Arabia

Japan were crowned kings of Asian football after defeating defending champions Saudi Arabia 1-0 to lift the Asian Cup for the second time.

A first-half goal from midfielder Shigeyoshi Mochizuki settled a pulsating battle at a capacity Sport City Stadium, with the Japanese repeating their 1992 Asian Cup triumph, when they also beat the Saudis 1-0.

Mochizuki, drafted into the final in place of the suspended Junichi Inamoto, struck in the 30th minute.

A perfectly weighted free-kick delivered from wide on the left by Shunsuke Nakamura created havoc in the Saudi six-yard box and Mochizuki was on hand to head past Al-Daeyea, the Saudi goalkeeper.

Good chances

Japan had beaten Saudi Arabia 4-1 earlier in the competition but the result was never going to be that emphatic this time around and the Saudis created a string of good chances to level in a frenetic second-half.

Shunsuke Nakamura
Nakamura set up the winning goal
But captain Sami Al-Jaber wasted their best opportunity seven minutes from time, sending a free header from seven yards out over the bar to leave Japan victorious.

The win was the first time a side from the Far East has ever won the Asian Cup when it has been staged in the Middle East.

Heavy favourites Japan had begun the match smoothly, their neat inter-passing twice stretching the Saudi defence in the opening minutes.

First Tomokazu Myojin skipped down the right only for his teasing chipped cross to be cleared away by centre-half Mohammad Al-Khilaiwi.

Moments later midfield maestro Hiroshi Nanami floated in a lovely lofted pass for Akinori Nishizawa, who toe-poked the ball around Al-Daeyea only for Abdullah Al-Wakad to clear with a well-timed tackle.


But the Japanese were rocked back on 10 minutes when the Saudis broke forward to earn a penalty, Ryuzo Morioka being adjudged to have tugged down Talal Al-Meshal as the two chased a long-ball from midfield.

Hamzah Idris stepped up but scuffed a weak spot-kick low and wide of the right-hand post to the relief of the Japanese and groans from the partisan capacity crowd of 60,000.

Japan continued to press forward and looked by far the more creative of the two sides and were duly rewarded with the goal on the half hour.

Japan's enterprising play nearly saw them double their lead three minutes before the break. Hiroaki Morishima ghosted down the left before cutting back for Nakamura whose first-time shot soared just over.

Furios pace

The Saudis came out after the interval and played at a furious pace launching wave after wave of attacks on the Japan goal.

Substitute Mohammed Al-Shloob, midfielder Nawaf Al-Temyat and Fouzi Al-Shehri all went close with shots from distance.

Sami Al-Jaber
Al-Jaber wasted a glorious opportunity
The Saudis were handed a lifeline on 58 minutes when United Arab Emirates referee Ali Bujsaim waved play on after Khalil bundled over Akinori Nishizawa for what looked like a definite penalty.

The defending champions continued to pour forward but Japanese goalkeeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi, who had an inspired game, preserved their lead with two brilliant saves before Al-Jaber missed a wonderful opportunity to level the scores seven minutes from time.

Japan: Kawaqguchi Yoshikatsu, Naoki Matsuda, Morioka Ryuzo, Mattori Toshihiro, Shigeyoshi Mochizuki, Akinori Nishizawa, Nanami Hiroshi, Morishima Hiroaki, Nakamura Shunsuke, Myojin Tomokazu, Naohiro Takahara.
Subs (used): Atsushi Morishima, Daisuke Oku, Shinji Ono.

Saudi Arabia: Mohammed al-Deayea, Mohammed al-Khilaiwi, Sami Al-Jaber, Khalid Ahmad, Saleh al-Saqri, Fouzi al-Shehri, Abdullah al-Wakad, Nawaf Temyat, Hamzah Idris, Ahmed Khalil, Talal al-Meshal.
Subs (used): Mohammad al-Shalhoub, Marzouq al-Otaibi.

Referee: Ali Bujsaim (UAE).

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See also:

29 Oct 00 |  Football
Iranian inquest into Cup defeat
27 Oct 00 |  Football
Asia's politcal football
26 Oct 00 |  Football
Japan and Saudi through to final
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