'Busy schedule cost us dear'

Japan required a stoppage time equaliser to draw 1-1 with Jordan, ranked 107th by FIFA, in their Asian Cup opener in Qatar, their first game since they drew with South Korea in mid-October.

“The reason I did not have friendlies was because of the player's schedule, especially those players abroad,” Zaccheroni said. “Some players have not played for a long time while some have just finished their season,” referring to those in Japan, where the campaign ended with the Emperors Cup last month.

The Blue Samurai face Syria on Thursday, knowing defeat and a win for Jordan over Saudi Arabia in the other Group B match would mean an early exit.

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