World cup 2014

Japan bemoan failure to kill off 10-man Greece

Blue Samurai have mountain to climb against Colombia after 0-0 draw

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 June, 2014, 8:18am
UPDATED : Friday, 20 June, 2014, 10:28am

Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni bemoaned his side’s failure to punish 10-man Greece after a 0-0 draw which leaves the Asian giants struggling to reach the World Cup knockout rounds.

Japan looked to have been given a crucial advantage when Greek captain Konstantinos Katsouranis was dismissed on 38 minutes for a second bookable offence.

We had a lot of possession, had a lot of chances and we didn’t capitalise on them. Right now I’m not happy at all
Alberto Zaccheroni

But although Japan dominated possession thereafter, they were unable to  find a way through a stubborn Greek rearguard action and now have it all to do if they are to emerge from group C.

Japan’s draw means Colombia are guaranteed a top-two finish in the group, but Zaccheroni’s men will now have to beat the in-form South Americans to have any chance of joining them in the last 16.

Zaccheroni said: “We pushed hard to win the game. We do have one match to play, but right now I’m not happy at all.

“We had a lot of possession, had a lot of chances and we didn’t capitalise on them.

“I don’t know what Colombia will decide and how they line up for us. But we  have to play differently from the first game and also from our game tonight.

 “We should have won the game," said Zaccheroni, whose side opened their campaign with a 2-1 loss to Ivory Coast.

Greece have never been past the group stage but victory over Ivory Coast could still get them through to the last 16.

Colombia top group C with six points from their first two games ahead of Ivory Coast with three. Japan face the Colombians on Tuesday in Cuiaba, when Greece meet the African team in Fortaleza.

Coach Fernando Santos claimed Greece could have emerged victorious were it not for Katsouranis’s first-half red card.

“When Katsouranis was sent off, it changed the game fundamentally,” Santos said. “Without the red card we probably could have won the game.

“I told my players at half-time the way to fight back is to work well defensively and try to counter-attack but you need to have the ball in the right moment to use the spaces and the wings,” the Portuguese said.

“I believe we did part of that well but had difficulties in other parts.”

Striker Kostas Mitroglou had to be substituted after taking a blow to his back but Santos said it may not be as serious as initially feared.

“These are very painful knocks on the bone. It is probably not severe,” Santos said, offering at the same time some advice to group leaders Colombia who face Japan in their final game.

“Please don’t let Japan win. That is what I have to say, I can’t say anything else,” he said with a loud laugh.

“We have to win [against Ivory Coast]. A draw is not good enough,” said Santos. “There is no other solution but to win. We must face it as we did against Russia [at Euro 2012].”

Greece had to win their last group game in that tournament to advance and they stunned group favourites Russia 1-0 to move into the last eight.

“I believe the same that happened in the Euro can happen here,” he said.Agence France-Presse, Reuters