INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLIES: Samurai Blue surge to double wins


Alberto Zaccheroni’s men continued their preparations for the 2014 World Cup with wins over Guatemala and Ghana during the international break. With four wins from their last five matches the Italian coach will be relatively pleased with the way his squad have bounced back from the disappointment of the Confederations Cup in June.

Central American minnows Guatemala failed to exert any great pressure on a relatively experimental side on Friday and Japan ran out comfortable 3-0 winners, all the goals coming in the second half from Honda, Kudo and Endo.

A stronger team started against Ghana on Tuesday in Saitama and despite dominating possession, found themselves a goal behind at the break, Acheampong’s strike taking a wicked deflection off Uchida before ending up in the net. Undeterred, Japan continued to dominate as Kakitani linked well with Honda and Kagawa. It was the Manchester United man who restored parity five minutes after the restart, cutting in from the left before unleashing a fierce low strike which fizzed into the corner of the net. Veteran playmaker Yasuhito Endo scored for the second game in succession shortly after the hour mark with a curling effort which somehow squirmed under Ghana goalkeeper Brimah, before setting up Keisuke Honda who headed the home side’s third of the evening.

Zaccheroni declared himself satisfied with the victory as he continues to integrate some up and coming domestic talent with his European based stalwarts in advance of the main event in Brazil next year. He takes his squad on the road next month for friendlies against Serbia and Belarus with unconfirmed rumours of a mouth watering clash against Belgium to be scheduled for November.

Chris Collins

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