Japan and Ecuador were left heartbroken as their 1-1 draw leads both nations exit group stage at the Copa America on Monday.
Interestingly Paraguay was the team celebrating as they automatically awarded a spot in the quarterfinals of the South American competition. After losing to Colombia in Group B, on Sunday, they received the much-needed advance as one of the top two third-place finishers.
Ecuador coach, Hernan Dario Gomez said after the match, “Japan is often underestimated. It is a well-organized and very dynamic team. Out players tried their best and it wasn’t their fault.” The quarterfinals of the Copa America will feature Brazil-Paraguay, Venezuela- Argentina, Columbia-Chile and Uruguay-Peru.
Hajime Moriyasu, Japan head coach who groomed a young, vibrant squad said, “Football is improving in Japan and in Asia in general. We played well and had some good matches against some strong nations.” A win for either of the team would have guaranteed them a place in the last eight and Japan has a better chance as they took the lead in minutes when Shoya Nakajima scored from 25 meters out.
But a disallowed goal from Angel Mena pounced on a parried shot to touch home from close range ended Japan’s hope of a first win at the Copa America 2019.