Japan's Halilhodzic delighted with Kubo decision


(Reuters) - Japan winger Yuyo Kubo's goalscoring form has vindicated the decision to select him over Keisuke Honda, coach Vahid Halilhodzic said after a 4-0 victory over Thailand in a World Cup qualifier on Tuesday.

The 23-year-old Belgian-based forward bagged a goal and two assists against Thailand in Saitama after scoring his first for the national side in the 2-0 win over the United Arab Emirates last week.

"Kubo showed his quality in these two games, he showed that he can play," Halilhodzic told Kyodo News.

"He scored two great goals and he can pass the ball as well. He's made me look good with the performances he had.

"I hope he continues to improve at this rate."

The result lifted the four-time Asian champions to the top of Group B along with Saudi Arabia in one of the two berths that guarantee tickets to Russia next year.

Halilhodzic, though, wants his side to sharpen their performance ahead of their last three games of the campaign against Iraq, Australia and the Saudis.

"We have to keep working, because these last three games will be even more difficult," Halilhodzic added.

"Iraq away will be a tough proposition for us."

Japan will face Iraq in Tehran on June 13 before hosting current Asian champions Australia on Aug. 31 and visiting the Saudis on Sept. 5.

(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru, editing by Nick Mulvenney)

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