Japan defeated South Korea 3-0 in a friendly football game on Wednesday, a warm-up before the start of World Cup qualifiers campaign in September.
It was the first home win against South Korea in 13 years and the first time in 37 years when Japan scored three goals in one game against the Asian opponent.
Dortmund midfielder Shinji Kagawa returned on the pitch after an injury received also against South Korea at the Asian Cup in January and scored twice. The third goal was scored by CSKA Moscow star Keisuke Honda.
Japan’s coach Alberto Zaccheroni said he was satisfied with the result but especially with the performance. He showed confidence that Japan can make it to the World Cup.
Japan is sharing the World Cup qualifying group with North Korea, Uzbekistan and Syria, while South Korea will face Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and Lebanon.
The victory came a week after the death of defender Naoki Matsuda, who played for his country at the 2002 World Cup co-hosted by Japan, after he collapsed on the training ground two days before. Matsuda was 34.
His sudden death shocked football community. "I can’t believe it," former teammate Shunsuke Nakamura told AFP. He referred to Matsuda as “dynamic in every aspect” and “a kind of big brother for everyone in a positive sense”.
Matsuda played for Yokohama Marinos between 1995 and 2010 and currently was part of the third-tier side Matsumoto Yamaga.
He played 40 games for the Japanese national team and was part of the winning squad at the Asian Cup in 2000 and 2004. He played all four games of Japan at the 2002 World Cup when the team made it to the last 16.
Matsuda fell into a coma after a warm-up run last Tuesday morning. He was then taken to hospital, where he was put on life support and never regained consciousness.
Photo by owenfinn16