DOHA // Bruno Metsu, the Qatar coach, has described Japan, their quarter-final opponents, as the Barcelona of Asia and suggested you need a computer to beat them.
The hosts are aiming to reach the last four of the Asian Cup for the first time but face a difficult task against the three-time champions, who ruthlessly dispatched Saudi Arabia 5-0 in their final group game on Monday.
"We are preparing ourselves to meet one of the best teams in Asia," the Frenchman told reporters before today's match at the Al Gharafa Stadium. "Looking at their match against Saudi Arabia, you could call them the Barcelona of Asia.".
He added: "They're well organised and disciplined. Sometimes you feel like you'd need a computer to beat Japan."
Barcelona's passing and pressing tactics have drawn widespread admiration and Metsu may have been overly kind to Japan by comparing the two teams, but the Blue Samurai have certainly improved after their opening draw with Jordan.
"We took our chances in the match [against Saudi Arabia] and at the same time, our opponents attacked us, they left space for us," Alberto Zaccheroni, the Japan coach, said. "Secondly, we sped up our performance, and the content of our performances is getting better and better.
"I hope we play even better than in our three previous matches against Qatar [Japan have won one and drawn two of those encounters]. We can't just evaluate ourselves based on the match against the Saudis. We just need to focus on Qatar."
Today's second quarter-final between Uzbekistan and Jordan at the Khalifa Stadium offers the victors the opportunity to reach the Asian Cup semi-finals for the first time.
Jordan will contest only their second Asian Cup quarter-final and are making a surprise appearance in the knockout stages having come through Group B, featuring Japan and Saudi Arabia, unbeaten.
Adnan Hamed, their Iraqi coach, remained confident that his team, ranked 107th in the world, can overcome the loss of three injured players, Hatem Aqel, their captain Bashar Bani Yaseen, the defender, and Odai Ai Saify, as well as the suspended Basem Fathi.
"We have reached this quarter-final and we deserved that on merit as we played very well," he said. "We are facing a very strong team in Uzbekistan and we are very confident. I have confidence and trust in my players."
Uzbekistan have produced some slick football and go into the match as favourites but Vadim Abramov, their coach, was wary of the good fortune Jordan enjoyed during their win over Syria when they were gifted an own-goal equaliser.
"Jordan is a good dangerous team, a very lucky team that can play football," he said. "[I'm a] bit afraid because sometimes there is no chance [for them] to score but they score, maybe somebody help them from upstairs."
Japan v Qatar, 12.35pm and Uzbekistan v Jordan, 3.25pm, both on Abu Dhabi Sports 1