Melbourne: Hiroshi Jofuku hailed his goal scorers as Sanfrecce Hiroshima signed off from a successful group phase of the 2019 AFC Champions League with a 3-1 win over Melbourne Victory on Wednesday.
The J.League side had already secured their passage to the next phase with their final match remaining, and goals from 2018 Asian Games silver medallist Taishi Matsumoto, Yusuke Minagawa and Tsukasa Morishima ensured Jofuku’s side notched up a fifth win in a row in Group F.
“I picked a lot of players who haven't been playing in the J.League,” said Jofuku, who has sought to juggle his squad throughout the group phase. “We've had some issues scoring in the league so we tried to make sure to address that in today's game.
“I thought the match was important because to get through an entire season we need everyone in the squad to contribute and we managed to score three goals. It's an incredible effort.”
Sanfrecce have impressed since losing on the opening day of their AFC Champions League campaign against Guangzhou Evergrande, racking up a run of five straight wins to qualify for the knockout rounds for only the second time in the club’s history.
Domestically, though, they have struggled and a slump in form has seen them slip from the summit in the early J.League standings to eighth, having scored just 12 times in 12 matches so far.
“These three goals mean a lot to us because of the scoring problems we've had,” said Jofuku. “And to see two of the boys who have been staying after training to work on their shooting score will galvanise the team.
“I hope we can continue to score at this rate in the league and the performance should send a message to the players who stayed back in Japan.”
Hiroshima will next meet defending champions Kashima Antlers in an all-J.League encounter in the last 16 on June 18 and 25.
“I want the players who are in Melbourne to recover as soon as possible and I will make the best selection for the Kashima games,” he said.