Monday, 8th June 2009
Japan book place at World Cup with win
The Japanese football team are celebrating becoming the first team to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa following a 1-0 win against Uzbekistan.
A ninth-minute headed goal from Shinji Okazaki proved enough to separate the two sides and lead Japan to their fourth consecutive World Cup with two games to spare.
Though both sides continued to enjoy chances for the rest of the match, the Japanese rearguard was able to hold firm to claim the vital win.
The victory takes Japan to 14 points in Asian Group A, enough to guarantee the Blue Samurai one of the two automatic qualifying places, the other falling to Australia who claimed a 0-0 draw with Qatar later the same day.
AFP reports that Japan are now looking to play friendlies against the world's top teams to prepare for the tournament.
Coach Takeshi Okada said: "We want to play teams that are as strong as possible...even if we're torn to pieces."
Japan will be keen to improve upon their disappointing performance at the 2006 tournament, in which they were eliminated at the group stage.
Written by Jehan Ranasinghe
Related news stories:
Homare Sawa wins the FIFA Women's World Player of the Year (10th January 2012)
Club World Cup ends in victory for Corinthians (20th December 2012)