Experienced defender Maya Yoshida has called for Japan and Qatar to show their continent’s football in its best light during Friday’s Asian Cup final.
Japan stormed past tournament favourites Iran 3-0 in their semi-final, although their opponents’ star forward Sardar Azmoun slapped Gaku Shibasaki to spark a melee during the closing minutes.
Qatar prevailed 4-0 in a highly charged encounter with hosts United Arab Emirates, with the ill-feeling between the two Gulf states manifesting as supporters threw shoes at Qatari players celebrating goals.
“I don’t want to see any stupid things after the game because we are really representing Asia,” Southampton defender Yoshida told reporters.
“We have the hashtag #bringingasiatogether, so it’s really important and beneficial to all the Asian countries to represent Asia by playing good football and with fair play.
“I expect both teams to play with 100 per cent effort, with fair play and to make a good game and show all over the world how we play.
“That makes another step not only for Japan but Asian football.”
Qatar captain Hasan Al Haydos echoed Yoshida’s call for calm as the 2022 World Cup hosts aim to complete a shock triumph in a tournament where they have never previously progressed beyond the quarter-finals.
“I think the most important thing in the game is to remain calm, everyone will be excited, but remaining calm is crucial,” he told a pre-match news conference.
“Everyone must be patient and put into practice what the coach tells us. We must be highly focused and patient.”
From 24 down to 2!
The #AsianCupFinal is set!
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