Iraq coach Salman: Travel, motivation factored in loss to Japan

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YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - JUNE 11:  Shinji Kagawa #10 of Japan make a break past Saad Abdulameer #21 of Iraq during the international friendly match between Japan and Iraq at Nissan Stadium on June 11, 2015 in Yokohama, Japan.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Japan's Shinji Kagawa competes for the ball with Saad Abdulameer

national team coach tipped his hat to victors following his side’s 4-0 loss on Thursday night at Stadium Yokohama.

The Lions of Mesopotamia were overwhelmed early by the Samurai Blue, surrendering goals to Milan star Keisuke Honda and Urawa Reds defender Tomoaki Makino in the first nine minutes of play.

“Japan played well but we wanted to get through the first 15 minutes without conceding,” Salman said after the match. “Our players lost confidence after falling two goals behind, and Japan became even more confident.

“We endured a lot of travel to get here, and some players came from the US, England and Sweden which surely affected us. Four players weren’t able to come to Japan, including our captain Younis Mahmoud.”

The fixture was originally planned as preparation for the 2015 Asian Cup semi-finalists ahead of their World Cup qualifier against Indonesia on June 16; that match was cancelled as a result of the latter’s recently-announced suspension by FIFA.

“Because [the Indonesia match] was cancelled, our players lost their motivation,” Salman reflected. “But we still learned from today’s match. We saw deficiencies in our defending and we’ll work hard to reduce our mistakes in the future.”

Instead of traveling to Indonesia for the aborted Group F encounter, Iraq’s national team will return home in order to host a match against Syria on June 27.