HONGKONG (Reuters) – Former Japan head coach Philippe Troussier praised the performance of the team at the Copa America after they were controversially denied a historic win over Uruguay due to a questionable VAR call.
Troussier, who was at the helm the last time Japan were invited to take part in the South American championship in 1999, praised the Hajime Moriyasu-led side on social media following their 2-2 draw with Oscar Tabarez’s team in Porto Alegre.
Japan took the lead through Koji Miyoshi only for Luis Suarez to level the scores from the penalty spot when Colombian referee Andres Rojas used VAR to determine Edinson Cavani had been fouled in the area by Japan defender Naomichi Ueda.
“Good game for Japan,” Troussier posted on Twitter. “New team, but united and aggressive. Penalty was not fair. It’s Cavani kicked Ueda’s foot, not Ueda kicked Cavani’s foot.”
Japan, who have sent a squad largely made up of players who will be vying for spots in the country’s team at next year’s Tokyo-hosted Olympic Games, retook the lead when Miyoshi scored again in the second half.
But Jose Gimenez equalised for Uruguay in the 66th minute.
“Do not forget that this is the Olympic team of Japan, players without international experience in a good Copa America,” wrote Troussier.
“Japan played uncomplicated, played to win. Anyway this team only plays forward, (to) win playing it is the credo (credit) of Moriyasu Japan.”
Uruguay now lead group C by a point from Chile with Japan in third, and a win over Ecuador on Monday could still be enough for Moriyasu’s team to advance to the knockout rounds.
“They wanted to win and that showed in the way they played,” the Kyodo news agency quoted Moriyasu as saying after the game.
“They worked hard and went in for challenges. The (Uruguay goals) were unfortunate, but overall it was a great effort.
“If we win our next game, we’ll have a good chance to advance from the group.”
(Reporting by Michael Church; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)