YOKOHAMA, Japan, June 2 (Reuters) - Japan beat Oman 3-0 to get their World Cup qualifying campaign firmly back on track on Monday.
Captain Yuji Nakazawa, Yoshito Okubo and Shunsuke Nakamura
were on target in rainy Yokohama, relieving the pressure on
Japan coach Takeshi Okada following a 1-0 defeat by Bahrain in
Japan have six points from three matches but still trail
Bahrain by three points in Group Two after the Gulf side beat
winless Thailand 3-2 in Bangkok later on Monday.
Nakazawa powered home a header to give Japan the lead in the
10th minute before Okubo made it 2-0 with a clinical finish
after 21 minutes.
Celtic midfielder Nakamura added a third goal three minutes
into the second half, turning cleverly on the edge of the box
and drilling a right-footed shot into the bottom corner.
Nakamura's goal was a collector's item coming via his
less-favoured right foot.
'That's normal,' he said with a sheepish grin. 'We put Oman
under pressure well as a team and opened them up with individual
skill. That will be the key to winning tight games.'
Okada's stewardship has been under intense scrutiny since
Japan were beaten in Manama.
Monday's matches were the first in a punishing run of four
2010 World Cup qualifiers in 20 days being played by the Asian
'We scored three good goals but we could have created more
opportunities to score,' said Okada, who took charge of Japan
for a second time last December.
'We should have been quicker to deliver crosses into the
danger area and looked after possession a bit better. We will
need to improve on that.'
Japan Football Association (JFA) chief Saburo Kawabuchi
sought to head off a potential flashpoint when former coach
Ivica Osim takes up an advisory post later this week by giving
the under-fire Okada a vote of confidence.
'There was a lot of variation to our play,' said Kawabuchi.
'The pressure on their defence from our midfield was something
we didn't have under Osim. We're finally seeing Okada's style.'
Oman coach Julio Cesar Ribas blamed injuries and a lack of
experience for his side's poor showing.
'The players were unable to hold their nerves,' said the
Uruguayan. 'We were missing five regular players and we need to
win our home games.'