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Wednesday, 10th August 2011
In Japan Sports News, Sports,

Japan football team cruises past South Korea in friendly

The Japanese national football team has beaten international rivals South Korea in a friendly, played in Sapporo, Japan.

This comprehensive victory extends the Blue Samurai's unbeaten streak under their new manager Alberto Zaccheroni to 13 matches.

Borussia Dortmund attacking midfielder Shinji Kagawa made a triumphant return to the national team, having been injured since breaking a metatarsal during the 2011 AFC Asian Cup. Kagawa scored a goal either side of half time - one in the 35th minute and one as the timer was at 53 minutes - to prove what he can do on the big stage.

The scorer of two goals later told CBC Sports: "We didn't expect an easy time so I'm happy we won in 90 minutes. I want to thank the many supporters here who helped us tonight."

Keisuke Honda, who plays his club football for CSKA Moscow, scored between Kagawa's two strikes, hitting the back of the net in the 51st minute.

Zaccheroni - who has previously managed some of the top teams in Italy, such as Internazionale, Juventus and AC Milan - told CBC Sports of the pride he felt while watching the team romp to victory.

"I'm satisfied with not only that we won over Korea but also that my players played a great game," he said.

"They kept their concentration for 90 minutes and played our soccer. We'll start preparing for the qualifiers and I'll look for new players to get into the national team."

International matches between Japan and historical rivals South Korea are always much-anticipated and emotional affairs. The match, despite only being a friendly, was obviously important to the players, who only last week lost compatriot and former team mate Naoki Matsuda to a heart attack he suffered just before training.

Each player on the Japanese national team wore a black armband in memory of Matsuda, while every time a player scored, he symbolically pointed to the sky.

Written by Susan Ballion  

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