Japan defeated Belgium with a score of 3-2, lifting spirits ahead the World Cup next year and being praised by the local media.
“Smashing down Belgium, world’s No. 5,” said a headline in the Sports Nippon, after the game in Brussels last week, on Wednesday.
Yoichiro Kakitani, Keisuke Honda and Shinji Okazaki scored for Japan, were all on target, eclipsing Belgium’s opener through Kevin Mirallas and a late strike from Toby Alderweireld, the international media said.
“Honda revived Japan with his propulsive force and uncompromising spirit when the squad seemed to deteriorate since qualifying for the World Cup,” the Nikkan Sports said.
“The tour encouraged more competition among players in the squad, boosting the bench strength as a result,” the top-selling Yomiuri Shimbun said.
“Now we will try to do better than in 2002,” when Japan reached the second round in the World Cup it co-hosted with South Korea, Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima said, according to the local media.
For Belgium it was a second straight home defeat after it lost 2-0 to Colombia around two weeks ago and dampened the spirits of the 40,000 fans at the King Baudouin Stadium.
“Japan was quick and strong and it gave us trouble,” defender Daniel van Buyten said.