A disappointed Vahid Halilhodzic promised revenge after his Japan slumped to a scoreless draw against Singapore in their first 2018 World Cup/2019 Asian Cup joint qualifier on Tuesday night at Saitama Stadium.
Despite being held to just two shots over 90 minutes, Singapore kept their place atop Group G with a historical effort from goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud, who blocked several key attempts by Milan star Keisuke Honda and others.
“I’ve never seen anything like this in my career. It’s difficult to explain,” Halilhodzic said immediately after the match. “We were constantly creating chances.
“We did everything we did to win, all we were missing was one goal. We were disorganised in front of their goal and had poor luck, but I also have to praise their goalkeeper [Izwan] who saved six or seven goals. I’ve never seen a goalkeeper stop that many shots before.”
The match, originally scheduled to take place in Singapore, was relocated to Japan due to a scheduling conflict with the closing ceremony of the 2015 SEA Games. While JFA officials had envisioned a home win to start the Samurai Blue’s road to Russia on a positive note, Japan are now in desperate need of a home win against Singapore on September 3 before a run of four straight away games.
“We were able to create opportunities and the players gave everything they could in order to win,” Halilhodzic added. “It’s a bit of a rough situation but there’s no need to look down.
“We’ll absolutely win in Singapore.”