SAITAMA, Japan, Feb 6 (Reuters) - Japan overcame Thailand 4-1 in freezing conditions to win their opening 2010 World Cup qualifier on Wednesday.
Thailand's players, normally accustomed to tropical heat,
were given little chance with snow falling in Saitama but they
made life difficult for Japan in the first half.
Midfielder Yasuhito Endo gave Japan the lead in the 21st
minute with a superb curling free kick from 30 metres.
However, Thailand stunned the home side by equalising within
a minute when forward Teerathep Winothai smashed a fierce shot
past Japan keeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi from the edge of the box.
Japan, booed off at halftime by the crowd of 35,000, went
back in front 10 minutes after the interval when striker Yoshito
Okubo prodded home from close range after an attempted Thai
clearance fortuitously ricocheted into his path.
Things got worse for Thailand when Narongchai Vachiraban was
sent off before Japan defender Yuji Nakazawa made the points
safe by heading the home side's third in the 66th minute.
Substitute Seiichiro Maki added a fourth in injury time,
stooping to head in a corner at the back post and give the score
line a slightly flattering look.
Bahrain and Oman are the other two teams involved in Group
Two in the third round of Asian qualifying.