Qatar have progressed into the final on the back of a 1-0 and 4-0 wins over South Korea and UAE respectively in the last two rounds. Interestingly, they haven’t leaked in a single goal in six matches, which is a record in itself.
Nagatomo pointed that Felix Sanchez’s outfit are known to allow opposition to see more of the ball and are well equipped to make the most of a single break.
"Qatar is a really good team. South Korea had more possession but Qatar hit on the counter as they defended in numbers. It was the same against UAE. We have to pay attention to the counterattacks. They are very fast and pacy and we need to keep an eye on it,” said the experienced defender.
At the World Cup, Japan went down 3-2 to Belgium in the Round of 16 despite having led 2-0 until the 68th minute. An injury tie strike by Nacer Chadli broke the Japanese hearts after a quick counterattack initiated by Kevin de Bruyne.
Nagatomo mentioned that his team have learnt their lesson on defending counterattacks the hard way and they will be ready to face the Qatar threat.
“When we are attacking, the opposition can hit us on the counter. That is what we have learnt against Belgium. We made a mistake on the counter against them. We are certainly more experienced in how to deal with the threat of counterattacks,” said the Galatasaray left-back.
"I didn't let him go free. I don’t want to lose an opponent in one-on-one situations especially in the final against Qatar.”
He praised the work rate of the Japanese squad and pointed that Iran suffered due to Japan’s constant running on and off the ball.
“Iran didn’t like the running by Japan. I think it is very important to run throughout.”