Football: Costa Rica are tough World Cup opponents for Japan, Moriyasu says

Japan’s head coach Hajime Moriyasu during the Kirin Cup soccer tournament against Tunisia in Suita, western Japan, June 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Japan expect tough physical competition against Costa Rica in the World Cup final in Qatar, Samurai Blue manager Hajime Moriyasu said on Wednesday.

The Central Americans joined Japan, Germany and Spain in Group E after clinching the final berth in the 32-team tournament with a 1-0 win over New Zealand in Tuesday night’s intercontinental qualifier in Qatar.

Former Arsenal striker Joel Campbell, now with Mexican club Monterrey, scored in the third minute to send Costa Rica to their third consecutive World Cup final and sixth overall.

The Kiwis were reduced to 10 men when substitute Kosta Barbarouses was shown a red card for a poor 69th-minute challenge at the Ahmad Bin Ali World Cup Stadium in Al Rayyan.

Moriyasu said Japan would not take Costa Rica lightly in their second group stage match on November 27.

“My first game as manager of the senior national team was a win against Costa Rica, but they were a physically strong team,” Moriyasu told Kyodo News.

“Without a doubt, Costa Rica are a solid opponent, not just Germany and Spain. I want to be prepared to take three points from them in the second game.”

Japan will face four-time champions Germany in their first match of the tournament on November 23. They will complete the group stage against European heavyweights Spain on December 1.

After performing well in back-to-back World Cup warm-ups, Samurai Blue ended their four-game 13-day streak in disappointing fashion by losing 3-0 to further World Cup qualifiers. , Tunisia in Osaka on Tuesday.