DUBAI // Japan will have to show a significant improvement in their performance if they hope to stand a chance against Thailand in Friday's AFC Futsal Championship final, according to Miguel Rodrigo, their coach.
Japan beat Australia 3-0 in their semi-final last night, with Kogure Kenichiro, Kitahara Wataru and Henmi Katsutoshi scoring in the final 12 minutes of a game that Rodrigo described as "ugly".
"In comparison with the first semi-final, I think we played a very bad game," said Rodrigo, referring to the earlier game in which Thailand stunned Iran 5-4. "If we are to win against Thailand, we need to improve on a lot of aspects, especially our final touch in front of the goal.
"Logically thinking, if you compare Iran with other teams, nobody would like to face Iran. But if Thailand beat Iran, it means they are in a better position at the moment than Iran. They played a spectacular game. This [Iran-Thailand] semi-final, it was pure futsal, an attractive game you see in Spain or Brazil.
"So Thailand will be the favourites because they won against Iran and they played very well. If we are to win, we need to improve by a lot."
Japan are the only team, aside from Iran, to win the Asian Championship, and this will be their seventh appearance in the final. For Thailand, it will be their second time and Rodrigo believes they had the advantage of playing without any pressure in this tournament.
While the other teams were battling to finish among the top four, and entry into November's World Cup, Thailand were assured of a place in the tournament as they are the host.
"They are the only team that did not play with this responsibility of qualifying for the World Cup and it's an advantage," Rodrigo said. "It liberates the mind.
"It's like the life of a millionaire, compared to those who earn a few dollars. The millionaires can afford to live a calm life and Thailand is in this state."
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