Thursday, 22 September 2011

Malaysia go down to Japan in Olympic qualifer

Japan were hit by Typhoon Roke yesterday. But it did not dampen the spirits of the “Young Samurai” squad from making a 2-0 winnning start against Malaysia in the opening game of the Asian Zone final round qualifying Group C match for the 2012 London Olympics at the Tosu Stadium last night.

Keigo Higashi and substitute Ryohei Yamazaki scored a goal each in the 10th and 76th minutes respectively for the home side.

Malaysia had skipper cum goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat to thank for keeping the scoreline respectable against a Japanese side seeking their sixth consecutive appearance in the Olympics.

Khairul single–handedly saved the blushes for Malaysia when he stopped more than a dozen attempts from the fleet–footed Japanese players in the one–sided match..

Although Malaysia only trailed by a single goal at half–time, it was one–way traffic all the way.
Khairul made at least seven point blank saves, including stopping Japan captain Kazuya Yamamura’s powerful header in the 16th minute.

It came as a surprise when Japan head coach Takashi Sekizuka did not start with his star striker Kensuke Nagai.

Instead, he opted for Yuya Osako and Genki Haraguchi upfront. But it did not matter. The home fans got their money’s worth as Japan totally dominated the proceedings and were rewarded with an early goal through Higashi from a neat set–piece in the 10th minute.

The Malaysian defence was caught flat–footed when Hiroshi Kiyotake put in a through ball into the box for Keigo to easily beat Khairul for the opening goal.

Malaysia, who are bidding to qualify for only their third Olympics since 1972 (Munich) and 1980 (Moscow), were no match for their more superior opponents.

Higashi was a constant thorn in the Malaysian box and could have easily bagged a hat–trick with the numerous chances presented to him.

With the ball mostly in the opposition half, Japan goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda was barely threatened at all. He touched the ball a couple of times and did not have to make a single dangerous save in the game.

Malaysian Under-23 forwards Izzaq Faris Ramlan and A. Thamil Arasu were starved of supply and could not do much.

Abdul Shukor Jusoh made the first attempt for Malaysia in the 52nd minute but fired well wide. The only real chance at goal came to Mohd Fandi Othman but he failed to keep his compusure inside the box and muffed a sitter with only Shuichi to beat in the 60th minute.

Japan doubled the scoreline when more slack defending allowed Ryohei to score in the 76th minute.

Asian countries are allocated 3.5 slots for the Olympics. The winner of the three groups will win automatic slots while the three runners–up will compete in a playoff, with the winner playing an African representative for the final slot to the London Games.

Japan: Shuichi Gonda, Daisuke Suzuki, Hiroki Sakai, Mizuki Hamada, Gotuku Sakai, Hiroshi Kiyotake, Kazuya Yamamura, Keigo Higashi (Ryohei Yamazaki), Takahiro Ogihara, Yuya Osako (Kensuke Nagai), Genki Haraguchi.

Malaysia: Khairul Fahmi Che Mat, Mohd Muslim Ahmad, Mohd Fadhli Shas, Mohd Zubir Azmi, Mahalli Jasuli, K. Gurusamy, Wan Zack Haikal Wan Nor (Wan Zaharul Nizam), A. Thamil Arasu (Syahrul Azwari Ibrahim), Izzaq Faris Ramlan, Mohd Fandi Othman, Abdul Shukor Jusoh.

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