Wednesday 12 October 2011

Japan forget goalscoring troubles with 8-0 annihilation of Tajikistan

Japan stamped their impression on Asian qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in devastating fashion with an 8-0 demolition of Tajikistan at the Nagai Stadium in Osaka yesterday evening.

Mike Havenaar made the headlines with two headed goals on his first start for the Samurai Blue, while there were also braces for both Shinji Okazaki and Shinji Kagawa. Yuichi Komano and Kengo Nakamura also made the scoresheet on a night where the home side dominated from the first whistle, registering 39 shots on goal to their opponents’ one.

The emphatic scoreline stands in stark contrast to Japan’s first two qualifying matches last month, which saw a last-gasp 1-0 win over North Korea followed by a 1-1 draw in Uzbekistan. Alberto Zaccheroni had used last Friday’s friendly with Vietnam in Kobe as an opportunity to retry his 3-4-3 backup formation, but another turgid display resulted only in a 1-0 victory that impressed few observers.

Tadanari Lee, the goalscorer on that occasion, was left out against Tajikistan in favour of 6’ 5” (194cm) forward Havenaar, who served as the lone striker in Japan’s regular 4-2-3-1 system. Nakamura was chosen to play as the central attacking midfielder in the continued absence of Keisuke Honda, while Komano took the place of the injured Atsuto Uchida at right-back.

Aware of the need to score early against opponents that had previously restricted Uzbekistan and North Korea to single-goal wins, Japan began at a high tempo and got off the mark inside just eleven minutes – Havenaar rising tallest to head home an inviting cross from Komano.

Okazaki combined cleverly with Komano and Nakamura to beat Tajikistan goalkeeper and captain Alisher Tuychiev for Japan’s second eight minutes later, before Komano scored himself with the aid of a slight deflection from just outside the penalty area. Kagawa made the score 4-0 just before half-time with a deft, first-time shot off the outside of his right boot from Nakamura’s incisive through ball.

Less than a minute into the second period, Havenaar scored in almost identical fashion to his opener, before being withdrawn for Tadanari Lee soon afterwards to rousing applause. The Japanese pressure was unrelenting, and Nakamura capped a superb all-round performance with a low shot across the goalkeeper for the sixth goal on 55 minutes.

As if to exemplify the hosts’ irresistible control on proceedings, a cross-cum-shot from Kagawa sailed over Tuychiev and into the top corner of the net to push the score up to seven. Nakamura then looped a cross to the opposite side of the six-yard box for Okazaki to head the eighth – and, as it proved – final goal for Japan with a quarter of an hour remaining.


Speaking to Football Japan after the game, midfielder Yasuhito Endo highlighted Havenaar’s 11th-minute opener as the key to his side’s dominant performance.

“The fact that we scored in the first half made it much easier for us to control the game. If we had got to half-time at 0-0 again, then the match might well have gone quite differently, so I was glad that we scored early on.”

The Gamba Osaka star also described the relentless flow of pressure as being ‘the Japanese way’.

“It is in our nature to keep pushing onwards. I think the desire to score more goals and give a better and better impression of ourselves stems from the hard-working ethic that is typical of the Japanese people. This nature shapes the style of our team.”

Zaccheroni appeared similarly satisfied in his post-match press conference, saying “This team has to continue growing ever further. But, in this sense, I felt we finally achieved both a good result and a good performance in this game. Right from the outset, the players concentrated hard and played well for 90 minutes until the very end.”

- Alexander Geynrikh scored the only goal as Uzbekistan edged North Korea 1-0 in Pyongyang in the other Group C game. Japan now lead the table on goal difference at the halfway mark.
- Kashima Antlers and Urawa Reds will contest the final of the Yamazaki Nabisco Cup on 29 October after successfully coming through both quarter and semi-final matches in the past week. Kashima required extra time to see off both Yokohama F Marinos and Nagoya Grampus, while Urawa accounted for the two Osaka clubs, Cerezo and Gamba.
- Fukuoka University caused the biggest upset of the Emperor’s Cup second round over the weekend by winning away to J1 side Omiya Ardija on penalties. Matsumoto Yamaga of the third-tier JFL were also surprise winners at home to Yokohama FC of J2.

World Cup qualification results (AFC third round)
Group A
Singapore 0-3 Jordan
China 0-1 Iraq

Group B
South Korea 2-1 United Arab Emirates
Lebanon 2-2 Kuwait

Group C
North Korea 0-1 Uzbekistan
Japan 8-0 Tajikistan

Group D
Australia 3-0 Oman
Thailand 0-0 Saudi Arabia

Group E
Indonesia 2-3 Qatar
Iran 6-0 Bahrain

International friendly result
Japan 1
-0 Vietnam

Emperor’s Cup second round results
Nagoya Grampus 6-0 FC Suzuka Rampole
FC Gify 0-1 Giravanz Kitakyushu
Kashiwa Reysol 2-0 Tochigi Uva
Ventforet Kofu 2-1 Machida Zelvia
Yokohama F Marinos 3-1 Kamatamare Sanuki
Tochigi SC 2-1 Honda Lock
Albirex Niigata 5-0 Toyama Shinjo Club
Yokohama FC 0-2 Matsumoto Yamaga
Kashima Antlers 2-0 University of Tsukuba
Kataller Toyama 2-2 Sagan Tosu (after extra time; Toyama won 5-3 on penalties)
Montedio Yamagata 2-0 Blaublitz Akita
Kyoto Sanga 3-0 Sagawa Printing
Kawasaki Frontale 2-1 Arte Takasaki (after extra time)
Oita Trinita 1-0 Tokushima Vortis
Omiya Ardija 1-1 Fukuoka University (after extra time; Fukuoka University won 5-3 on penalties)
Shonan Bellmare 2-1 Fagiano Okayama Next
Gamba Osaka 2-0 Sagawa Shiga
Consadole Sapporo 2-3 Mito HollyHock (after extra time)
FC Tokyo 4-0 FC Kagoshima
Vissel Kobe 8-0 Sanyo Electric Sumoto SC
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 4-2 Zweigen Kanazawa
Ehime FC 2-0 FC Ryukyu
Urawa Reds 4-1 Miyazaki Sangyo-Keiei University
Tokyo Verdy 7-1 V-Varen Nagasaki
Cerezo Osaka 6-0 Hokkaido University of Education Iwamizawa Campus
Thespa Kusatsu 0-1 Fagiano Okayama (after extra time)
Vegalta Sendai 2-1 Sony Sendai (after extra time)
Avispa Fukuoka 3-0 Kochi University
Shimizu S-Pulse 2-0 FC Gifu Second
Gainare Tottori 3-0 Roasso Kumamoto
Jubilo Iwata 3-0 Fukushima United
JEF United China 1-0 Dezzola Shimane

Yamazaki Nabisco Cup semi final results
Nagoya Grampus 1-2 Kashima Antlers (after extra time)
Urawa Reds 2-1 Gamba Osaka

Yamazaki Nabisco Cup quarter final results
Kashima Antlers 3-2 Yokohama F Marinos (after extra time)
Nagoya Grampus 5-3 Albirex Niigata (after extra time)
Gamba Osaka 3-1 Jubilo Iwata
Cerezo Osaka 1-2 Urawa Reds

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