BAHRAIN bowed to Japan 2-6 last night on the final day of group play in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Beach Soccer Championship, being held in Pattaya, Thailand.
The result earned Japan the number one position in Group ‘C’ and a showdown with defending champions Iran in the quarter-finals.
Bahrain, on the other hand, will face unbeaten Group ‘D’ winners Oman. The last eight is scheduled to be played tomorrow.
Ozu Moreira and Masanori Okuyama scored twice each for the Japanese, with Ozu joining teammate Shusei Yamuichi at the top of the tournament scoring charts with six goals in three matches.
Mohamed Ashoor was a notable absentee for Bahrain, with the suspended captain deputised by former international footballer Rashed Jamal, who found himself on the wrong end of the game’s opening goal, when Ozu superbly skipped around the 40-year-old before firing low into the bottom corner on two minutes.
Japan’s lead was gone just as soon as it had arrived, with Ebrahim Al Mahjoob steering a pinpoint header across Shingo Terukina two minutes later to make it 1-1.
But Japan pulled away in the second period, first restoring their advantage with Akaguma netting a fabulous bicycle kick in the 16th minute and Okuyama scoring an equally impressive goal two minutes later to stretch the gap to 3-1.
Seconds later, Okuyama found the net with yet another bicycle kick, and things got even worse for Bahrain when Isa Al Doseri was sent from the pitch, their second red card in as many contests.
Ozu netted Japan’s fifth, while Jamal followed that with a 22nd-minute penalty to give Bahrain their second.
A sweet left-foot finish into the bottom corner from in-form Yamauichi got the campaign off to a dream for the Japanese side.
Bahrain head coach Mahmood Al Ghawi commented after the match: “My team gave everything they could. They were warriors on the field. They fought. We had a player who didn’t play because of a red, and today another red card. This made it difficult for my players, because we are playing against Japan, who are one the best teams in the world, who have a league, who train all the year and make their training camp in Brazil. They have a very high technical level. We tried hard.”
Other teams to make it through to the quarter-finals were Palestine and Malaysia from Group ‘A’ and the UAE and Lebanon from Group ‘B’.