Japan lost the 2013 Confederations Cup opener 3-0 to Brazil in the host country’s capital, Brasilia, on Saturday. Around 70,000 fans packed the Estadio Nacional Mane Garrincha, creating an amazing atmosphere. However, the competition’s opening ceremonies were overshadowed by a protest organized outside the stadium, just before the match.
Around 1,000 people protested against the high costs Brazil has to pay for hosting the World Cup during the summer of 2014. The police fought back with tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets, according to the international press.
The starting lineups featured five of the tournament’s 13 Bundesliga players: Japan’s Atsuto Uchido, Makoto Hasebe, Hiroshi Kiyotake and Shinji Okazaki, along with Luiz Gustavo of Brazil.
Neymar scored the first goal of the tournament, giving the Brazilian hosts a 1-0 lead. Paulinho doubled the score three minutes after halftime, and Jo made it 3-0 for Brazil in stoppage time.
Japan’s Italian coach Alberto Zaccheroni motivated the Nippon team’s game by saying the time was not enough for the players to recover after the long journey to Brazil.
“We are not the team we saw tonight — we can do so much better. Now I must talk to the team and see if it was the early goal which sank us. We only just came over following the game in Qatar and maybe we did not quite hit the best level of fitness in such a short time,” he said.
“I am not upset, but I am disappointed as we made some silly mistakes. Today did not prove much for us or for Brazil.”
On the other hand, goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima said the flight from Qatar and the short acclimatisation period could not excuse the loss.
“We knew we had a long flight coming up and so that could not be helped. It was not the cause of the defeat,” the Standard Liege shot-stopper said.