Monday, June 1, 2009

Japan win Kirin Cup with two dominant displays

Japan win Kirin Cup with two dominant displays.
Japan warmed up for their World Cup qualifier against Uzbekistan in Tashkent on June 6 with two crushing Kirin Cup victories to win the three-team tournament in front of their home fans.

Japan thrashed Chile 4-0 on May 27 in front of 43,531 fans at a sold-out Nagai Stadium in Osaka, with Shimizu S-Pulse front man Shinji Okazaki helping himself to a brace.

Takeshi Okada handed a debut off the bench to 18-year-old Urawa Reds midfielder Naoki Yamada, but it was Yamada's club-mate Yuki Abe who scored Japan's third, before Keisuke Honda added a fourth in stoppage-time to complete the rout for the Blue Samurai.

After Chile and Belgium had played out a 1-1 draw at Fukuda Denshi Arena in Chiba on May 29, Japan then took on Frankie Vercauteren's Belgium at the National Stadium in Tokyo.

In front of another sell-out crowd of 42,520 it was Japan who controlled from start to finish, with FC Tokyo defender Yuto Nagatomo shaking off an injury to start and open the scoring for the hosts.

Kawasaki Frontale star Kengo Nakamura scored a second for the Blue Samurai before half-time, and second half strikes from Shinji Okazaki and substitute Keisuke Honda finished the job for Takeshi Okada's free-scoring team, as Japan ran out 4-0 winners.

Japan have been criticised for their lack of goals in World Cup qualifying - despite having totalled the same number of goals as current group leader Australia.

Okada will be pleased to have seen his team play some eye-catching football during the Kirin Cup, but the po-faced tactician was quick to point out that it will count for little unless his team gets the job done in Tashkent.

After travelling to Uzbekistan, Japan next meet Qatar in Yokohama on June 10, before making the long trip Down Under to take on Australia in a blockbuster at the Melbourne Cricket Ground a week later.

Copyright © Michael Tuckerman & Soccerphile.com

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