Zaccheroni pleased with Japan win

Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni was happy with the confidence displayed by Japan as they started their World Cup qualifying journey with a comfortable win over Oman.

Football News: Makoto Hasebe Japan

By staff

Taking on Paul le Guen's side, the Blue Samurai were widely expected to win but in a tough group that also includes heavyweights in Iraq and Australia, they knew that they could not afford a slip-up at such an early stage of the qualifying programme. Oman set out their stall to defend in the match but an early 12th-minute goal by Keisuke Honda calmed the nerves of the 63,000 Japanese supporters in Saitama. 

With Jordan holding Iran to a 1-1 draw, Japan's result allowed them to take pole position in Group B and they will welcome the Jordanians on Friday hoping to consolidate their lead with another win. 

The AFC Asian Cup holders attacked the Oman half consistently throughout the game and registered their first goal after Yuto Nagatomo’s cross from the left was volleyed in by Honda. They couldn't add to the scoreline in the first half, however, as Oman goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi stood his ground to deny the Japanese. Shinji Kagawa had a disallowed goal as he was flagged for offside and Shinji Okazaki went close shortly afterwards. 

But a three-minute double salvo in the second half by Ryoichi Maeda and Shinji Okazaki helped decide the match near the hour-mark.

Coach Zaccheroni was pleased with the manner of the win and pointed out that it was an all-round team effort by his side. 

"The players were all very aware of the importance of winning the first match," the Italian told Japan Times. 

"We wanted to take the initiative, and we knew that to break them down it would be up to us to find a way through.

"At the end of the game we were taking some risks and being aggressive. We created a lot of chances and stayed very solid in defense. I'm very satisfied at how well we played as a team tonight [Sunday]."

Oman manager Le Guen was disappointed with the defeat which means that they have to get a result against Zico's Iraq in their next fixture. He conceded that the Japanese deserved to win and called on his team to improve their performance in order to make up for the gap in quality between them and their illustrious opponents in the group. 

"Of course we are disappointed, but we have to recognize that Japan deserved to win the game," accepted Le Guen. 

"They were far better than us. We didn't exist tonight [Sunday]. We have to realize that there is a difference between us and a high-level team like Japan. 

"We have to improve to compete on such a level."

Oman next play Australia on Friday and have it all to do if they are to finish the group in the top three. Japan will face their sternest test in the group on June 12 when they visit the Socceroos in Brisbane.

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