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AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 Reviewed by the Referees in charge

07 February 2019

AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 Reviewed by the Referees in charge

During the AFC Asian Cup 2019 held in UAE, five of the FIFA International Referees from Japan were elected to be in charge of the following matches.


Referees: SATO Ryuji, IIDA Junpei, KIMURA Hiroyuki
Assistant referee: YAMAUCHI Hiroshi, MIHARA Jun

Matches In Charge

Mon. 7 January Group D Match No.7 Iran vs Yemen
(Referee: Sato, Assistant referee: Yamauchi/Mihara, Additional assistant referee: Iida/Kimura)
Thu. 10 January Group A Match No.13 Bahrain vs Thailand
(Additional assistant referee: Sato, Fourth official: Yamauchi)
Thu. 10 January Group A Match No.15 India vs UAE
(Additional assistant referee: Iida/Kimura)
Fri. 11 January Group C Match No.17 Philippines vs China PR
(Referee: Kimura, Assistant referee: Yamauchi/Mihara, Additional assistant referee: Sato/Iida)
Mon. 14 January Group A Match No.25 UAE vs Thailand
(Referee: Sato, Assistant referee: Yamauchi/Mihara, Additional assistant referee: Iida/Kimura)
Wed. 16 January Group D Match No.31 Vietnam vs Yemen
(Additional assistant referee: Iida/Kimura, Fourth official: Yamauchi)
Tue. 22 January Round of 16 Match No.43 Korea Republic vs Bahrain
(Referee: Sato, Assistant referee: Yamauchi/Mihara, Additional assistant referee: Iida)
Fri. 25 January Quarterfinals Match No.48 UAE vs Australia
(Referee: Sato, Assistant referee: Mihara)


SATO Ryuji, FIFA International Referee
Following the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2018, I returned to my country on Monday 24 December to take a short rest, before returning to UAE on Sunday 30 December. A five-day seminar was held prior to the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019, which kicked-off on Saturday 5 January. During the Asian Cup I was in charge of refereeing two matches at the group stage (Iran vs Yemen, UAE vs Thailand) and two matches at the knockout stage (Round of 16: Korea Republic vs Bahrain, Quarterfinals: UAE vs Australia). It was my first time to be in charge of refereeing four matches at the Asian Cup, providing a very tight schedule that required strict management of my condition. It also gave me the joy of blowing the whistle as well as a learning experience to adapt with the new systems of AAR (Additional assistant referee) and VAR (Video Assistant Referee). Throughout this tournament, I felt the importance to communicate with other referees from different countries, even more than before. This was my second time participating at the Asian Cup following the previous cup (AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015), but I was really able to feel how much I have improved as a referee in these four years. It gave me a sense of determination to strive for higher levels. I will utilise this experience in the upcoming 2019 season and cherish each match I face.

IIDA Junpei, FIFA International Referee
Prior to this tournament, the referees were all gathered on Sunday 30 December and received a fitness check-up on Tuesday 1 January, followed by a seminar that went over the tournament regulations and criteria for making calls on the pitch. During the tournament, training sessions were held in the morning, match reviews and refresher meetings before lunch, followed by the actual match in the afternoon. We’d have to travel to our next match venue and take care of our bodies between these tight schedules. By spending time with the top referees of Asia, I was able to learn how they take great emphasis on team building, trainings, and meetings. They also showed their ability to maintain their strong determination on the pitch, which becomes the foundation to make the correct decision even under pressure. Throughout this tournament I strongly felt that the level of Asian football has improved just as how Japanese football has improved over the years. I will continue to work hard so that I can be involved in such tournament like this again.

KIMURA Hiroyuki, FIFA International Referee
I was given the opportunity to take part in this year’s Asian Cup, where I was assigned as the referee for one match, and four matches as the additional assistant referee. I feel like I was able to contribute to the tournament by fulfilling my obligations. Ahead of the opening ceremony, we took part in seminars that allowed us to familiarise ourselves with the judge criteria and the tournament targets. Once the tournament has started, we were given opportunities to analyse each of our matches and receive feedbacks on critical scenes. Many scenes were being spotlighted during the tournament to make the criteria clear. Through this tournament, I have learned so many things that can be implemented in my future referee career. Regardless of either it’s an international match or not, there is always a tense atmosphere surrounding the matches, but the Asian Cup had its own sense of tension. Hopefully this experience can broaden my ability as a referee. I will continue to strive to better manage the matches and become a better referee.

YAMAUCHI Hiroshi, FIFA International Referee
This opportunity to be a part of the Asian Cup has given me a great learning experience, as I was able to learn the pros and cons of my referee skills. I am thankful for everyone’s support during the tournament. I felt that the Asian Cup features a great amount of diversity, just like the World Cup. Each team must take in consideration of their opponent’s strategy and mentality that roots from their nationality, which can be very difficult at times. As referees, we faced similar issues. Under the given circumstances, I gave my very best as a member of the Japanese referee team and I feel like I have contributed to the tournament. The tournament slogan of “Bringing Asia Together,” has been put to practice by the referees as well. During the tournament, the referees did well to communicate with each other to stay on the same page and heighten each other’s performances. The competition among the Asian referees has really gotten intense, but as a Japanese referee, I hope to take advantage of the J. League to deepen my understanding on football and work hard to become a better referee.

MIHARA Jun, FIFA International Referee
I am honoured to be part of the Japanese referee team in this prestigious tournament that determines the champions of Asia. During the tournament, I have learned so much from Mr. Sato and all the other referees’ approach towards the training sessions and their daily routines. The atmosphere was very intense in all the matches I was involved in, but I focused on keeping my composure to give my usual performance. I will cherish each and every match I am assigned to in the future and do my best to fulfil my role as the assistant referee to help the match go smoothly. I would like to thank everybody from the JFA who has supported me throughout this tournament, and my co-workers and family for understanding and supporting my career as a referee.

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