Hope I can come back to Liverpool one day and see its fans, says Minamino

Minamino, who won three trophies with Liverpool, scored twice for Japan, helping it beat Vietnam 4-2 in their AFC Asian Cup 2023 opener.

Published : Jan 15, 2024 12:37 IST , Doha, Qatar - 2 MINS READ

Takumi Minamino of Japan.
Takumi Minamino of Japan. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Takumi Minamino of Japan. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Former Liverpool midfielder Takumi Minamino was on fire for Japan, scoring twice and setting another, as his team beat Vietnam 4-2 at the Al Thumama Stadium on Sunday.

Minamino, who helped the Reds win the Premier League title after 30 years, also won the Carabao Cup and the FA Cup under Jurgen Klopp before moving on to French side AS Monaco in June 2022.

Looking back, the 28-year-old still has a corner in his heart that beats for Liverpool.

“I have a lot of good memories of my life in Liverpool. I always miss the fans, lovely people and I hope, one day, I can come back and see them,” he says.

Japan also started its first major tournament under captain Wataru Endo, who plays for Liverpool now.

The AFC Champions League winner had played a key role in rescuing VfB Stuttgart out of relegation in the 2021-22 season, scoring the winning goal against FC Cologne.

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Against Vietnam here, he made life difficult for the opponents with his ubiquitous presence on the field. He recovered the ball 12 times, provided two key chances and assisted Minamino for the equaliser.

“He is a very important player on and off the pitch. He has a lot of confidence also, which is a great thing for us,” Minamino said.

Reducing space for Vietnam in the second half

In a match where Hajime Moriyasu chose to shuffle his pack, benching midfielders Yuko Asano and Takefusa Kubo, Minamino led from the front in orchestrating attacks from the midfield.

He opened the scoring in the 10th minute and then, with Japan trailing 1-2, equalised in the 44th minute to draw the Blue Samurais back into the game, after which they did not look back.

“It (Vietnam) was a very (big) surprise for me. I knew already that they had some good players but they had more (in them) than I thought,” he said, after the match.

“They played really well from build-up and had some good offensive players.”

Japan’s second half performance was a tactical masterpiece wherein it limited giving away set-piece opportunities, a lack of which has led to it conceding two goals in the first half.

“There were a few tactical things but nothing major, only how to reduce the space (for Vietnam),” he said, when asked about the half-time talk.

Japan, the most successful team in the tournament, will now follow the match between Iraq and Indonesia for it faces the former in four days.

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