Japan, who finished second in Asian Cup Group D, will enter the knockout phase against Bahrain, who grabbed Group E's top spot Thursday with a 1-0 win over Jordan.

Speaking to reporters in Doha, Japan manager Hajime Moriyasu said of the matchup, "We must never go into a game in a way that hands momentum to our opponents."

Japan's Takefusa Kubo (L) shoots in the first half of a group-stage match against Indonesia at the Asian Cup football tournament in Doha on Jan. 24, 2024. (Kyodo)

Japan failed to win its group due to a 2-1 loss to Iraq, another team from the Middle East, that scored two first-half goals.

"There was some sense within the team that we needed to dominate games," Moriyasu said. "But realistically, we can't dominate. We have to create space and attack there."

Japan opened its group stage with a win over Vietnam before the loss to Iraq, and clinched its spot in the knockout stage on Wednesday with a 3-1 win over Indonesia.


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