Both of the Asian guest sides at the Copa America played second Group Stage games respectively, and while both have put in admirable performances, their chances of qualifying for the knockout stage remain slim.
Qatar suffered a narrow 1-0 loss at the hands of Colombia in Group B. The West Asian side managed to hold them goalless for most of the match, despite the number of chances Colombia created. However, their efforts were ultimately undermined when Duvan Zapata got on the end of James Rodriguez’ curling lobbed ball and thumped a powerful header into the back of the net just four minutes from time.
Despite the defeat, Qatar still have a chance of qualifying for the next round after Argentina were held to a 1-1 draw with Paraguay. The 2014 World Cup finalists continued to struggle at this tournament and needed a Lionel Messi penalty to bail them out of trouble after going behind.
The Asian guests sit third in Group B, above Argentina, who they prepare to face on the last day. In order to secure progression, Qatar will need a victory over Lionel Scaloni’s men, while hoping that Colombia can beat Paraguay.
Japan also gave themselves a chance of qualifying for the knockout stage when they held Group C favorites Uruguay to a 2-2 draw. After handing 7 international debuts for their opening 4-0 loss to Chile, not much was expected of this young, Olympic-eligible Japan side against one of South America’s best.
However, it was Japan who opened the scoring after 24 minutes, when Koji Miyoshi skipped past his marker and rifled his shot into the net from an improbable angle, beating Fernando Muslera at his near post.
The side looked to get a second just minutes later when Shinji Okazaki’s appeals for a penalty were turned down by the referee. On the contrary, Uruguay were the ones awarded a spot-kick when Edinson Cavani was caught by Naomichi Ueda. Luis Suarez stepped up to take the penalty and had no issues when burying the ball in the bottom corner to level the game.
Having found the net, the momentum of the game began to swing in Uruguay’s favor. However, Japan managed to weather the storm and actually found a second of their own just before the hour mark, as Miyoshi capitalized on Muslera’s inability to clear the danger from a cross, sneaking in to give the Samurai Blues a lead once again.
Unfortunately for them, it would be canceled out once again when Jose Maria Gimenez struck from a corner to draw Uruguay for a second time.
A 2-2 draw against one of the world’s biggest footballing powerhouses will surely be a massive boost of encouragement for this young Japan side, but given the context of the game, the Asian side will be forgiven for their disappointment. They now must await the result between Chile and Ecuador before determining what the permutations will be ahead of the final day of the group stage.