Japan coach reduces interpreter to tears

July 10, 2007

HANOI, July 10 (Reuters) - Japan coach Ivica Osim branded his players 'amateurs' and reduced his interpreter to tears after their shock 1-1 draw in their Asian Cup opener.

The defending champions were stunned by a late equaliser in Monday's Group B clash with Qatar, triggering a furious tirade from the Bosnian.

'Osim was in a rage,' midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura told reporters. 'He said he was a professional and prepared to put his life on the line and that we should do the same.

'He called us amateurs. His interpreter was in tears and couldn't translate most of it.'

Japan had gone ahead through striker Naohiro Takahara's 61st-minute goal but Sebastian Quintana snatched an equaliser for Qatar with a deflected free kick two minutes from time in Hanoi.

Yuki Abe's clumsy challenge that led to the free kick provoked a look of disbelief from Osim on the bench and his face was still red with fury after the match.

'It was hot and it was humid but we still should have finished the job,' said the 66-year-old. 'We won't know how much damage this draw has done until the end of the group stage.'

Goalkeeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi blasted Japan's lack of composure in the final few minutes.

'That's the scary thing about international football,' he said. 'We knew they had one or two dangerous players and yet we give away a stupid foul like that.

'We have to stop panicking in situations like that.'

Japan, who are bidding to win a third straight Asian Cup title, play United Arab Emirates in their next game on Friday.

Co-hosts Vietnam lead Group B after beating the Emirates 2-0 at the weekend.

This year's tournament is being staged jointly by Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. The final is in Jakarta on July 29.