Yamada Stars As Japan Beat Egypt

Naoki YamadaNaoki Yamada marked his first start for Japan's Under-22s in style on Wednesday, scoring one goal and creating the other as Takashi Sekizuka's side beat Egypt's U-22s 2-1 in a warm-up for the final round of qualifiers for next year's London Olympics.




Egypt took an early lead through Marwan Mohsen but Urawa Reds midfielder Yamada rifled home the equalizer before setting up Kensuke Nagai for the winner in the first game of a double header in Hokkaido.
"I was pleased with the way I was able to combine with my teammates but made mistakes in the second half and gave them trouble," said Yamada. "I tried my best wherever I could and think overall I did okay."
Japan's senior national team are to face South Korea later in the day at Sapporo Dome in their last match before the third round of Asian qualifying for the 2014 World Cup begins next month.
Egypt took just five minutes to open the scoring, Mohsen losing his marker to glance Eslam Ramadan's free kick into the far corner, but sloppy defending allowed Japan to pull level six minutes later.
Egypt captain Moaz El-Henawy failed to properly clear Hiroki Sakai's ball in and Yamada was nicely placed to slam home the loose ball before turning provider for Nagai on the half hour mark.
Yamada sent Nagai clean through with a clever pass and the Nagoya Grampus striker swept through the legs of Saad Samir at the second attempt after his initial shot had been parried by Egypt goalkeeper Ali Lotfi.
"We started by conceding the same way we did against Australia (in Niigata in June) and that is something that needs to be addressed," said Sekizuka.
"We keep giving away an early lead. We conceded from a set piece in the second leg (of the second round Olympic qualifier) against Kuwait. We need to fix these things."
"Our main goal is London. We had a lot of changes in the squad but I still think we are moving in the right direction with what we are trying to do."
Sekizuka also picked out Yamada for special praise. "He was very effective and played very well for us today. He can give and go in midfield and was also getting himself into goalscoring positions," he said.
Egypt coach Hany Ramzy said, "In the first half we took the lead but Japan controlled the game after that and got a second. But I think having to fast during Ramadan affected us. It was a good test for us."
Japan, bidding for a fifth consecutive Olympic appearance, kick off the final round of qualifiers against Malaysia at home on Sept. 21. Sekizuka's men are also drawn against Bahrain and Syria in Group C.
The winners of each of three four-team groups will qualify for the Olympics. The runners-up will play each other at a centralized venue from March 25-29, 2012, for a playoff spot against an African representative.