Japanese Football Legend Talks About Significance Of AFC U23 Asian Cup Qatar 2024

(MENAFN- The Peninsula) #AFC U23 ASIAN CUP The Peninsula

Doha, Qatar: Ryuzo Morioka has represented Japanese football at all levels in an illustrious career that saw him lift the AFC Asian Cup in 2000 and captain the Samurai Blue during the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

The prolific defender also played for his country at the 2000 Summer olympics in Sydney. Morioka is currently in Qatar as part of the Japanese press corps covering the AFC U23 Asian Cup Qatar 2024, a tournament that he sees holding tremendous significance for football in Japan and throughout the continent.

“Tournaments like the under-23 Asian Cup in Qatar offer a great opportunity to players to connect to the outside world,” said Morioka.

“It provides them with great motivation. It's great for teams to win and gain confidence, but it's equally valuable to lose matches that they expected to win. This provides them with a very valuable experience,” he added.

Morioka was part of a golden generation that saw Japan record its first ever win and qualify to the Round of 16 when they co-hosted the tournament alongside Korea Republic.

Since then, the Japanese have established themselves as a side to be contented with in world football.

Most recently, Japan topped their group at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, serving up famous victories against former champions Germany and Spain.

“Youth tournaments like the under-23 Asian Cup are important for the growth of young players. They allowed me to play against different countries, and be exposed to different cultures,” said Morioka.

“It's great for teams to win and gain confidence, but it's equally valuable to lose matches and gain much-needed experience,” he further added.

Japan is set to meet hosts Qatar in a much-anticipated quarterfinal match after finishing second in Group B behind Korea Republic.

The Japanese registered wins against China PR and the United Arab Emirates before losing 1-0 to the Taeguk Warriors. Japan is looking to qualify to the Olympic Games men's football tournament for a seventh consecutive time.

“As someone that has been following the Japanese under-23 team closely, I am happy to see them develop to this high level. Seeing them in the knock-out stage is wonderful, and I look forward to how the U23 Asian Cup in Qatar will play a part in the growth and development of these future stars,” added Morioka.

Qatar is hosting the AFC U23 Asian Cup for a record second time, after previously organizing it in 2016, a tournament that Japan won.

This is the first time that the competition is being played on FIFA World Cup stadiums, and comes only a few months after Qatar successfully hosted the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023.


The Peninsula

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