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Monday, 28th November 2011
In Japan Sports News, Sports,

Japan top table in London 2012 qualifier

The Japanese football team has clinched its place at the top of the London 2012 qualifying tables after facing challenging opposition in Syria on Sunday (November 27th).

Japan had a narrow victory after a swift header from Yuki Otsu took the team to a 2-1 lead in the final four minutes of the game.

It seemed headers were key to the side’s success as it was the first head-to-ball touch from Mizuki Hamada that put Japan in front during the first-half of the match.

However, a strong strike from Syrian Omar Al Suma brought the two sides neck-and-neck in a last bid for the top position of Group C.

This marked a 100 per cent perfection rating for Japan in the competition - a feat unrivalled by any other team playing for a place in next year’s Olympic Games.

Coach Takashi Sekizuka did not take the win for granted as he told the Mainichi Daily: “Syria proved to be very strong opponents but my players didn’t shy away when the going got tough.

“The players battled hard as they realised the significance of the match and knew how important it was to get three points.”

It was those three points that sealed the Japanese side’s fate.

Still, there was some unrest in the stadium as security stepped in to settle arguing Syrian fans who were fighting among themselves in the away stands.

Japanese supporters were also frustrated by a number of near misses from their homeside as they witnessed Naoki Yamada fail to take the team to a 2-0 lead in the first hour.

The winners from three groups of four teams will all achieve entry into London 2012.

Meanwhile, the women’s football team proved popular with sports fans as they were ranked fourth on the 2011 Hit Products in Japan in a report issued by Dentsu Inc this November.

Posted by Susan Ballion

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