Japan beats Vietnam in final Rio qualifying warmup

Kyodo

Japan’s Under-23s beat Vietnam 2-0 on Thursday in their final warmup for next week’s Under-23 Asian Championship, the continent’s final qualifying competition for this summer’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Fagiano Okayama loanee Yuta Toyokawa, a late addition to the squad, and JEF United Chiba striker Ado Onaiu both scored in the first half of the game played behind closed doors in Doha, but Japan coach Makoto Teguramori revealed it was not all plain sailing.

“We had good shape at the start of the game and were able to score goals but we also got ourselves in some dangerous situations in the second half,” he said.

“If we don’t deliver the killer blow then that could end up hurting us,” continued Teguramori, whose side’s victory followed a 2-1 win over Syria in a friendly on Wednesday.

“We have won two games and the atmosphere in the squad is not bad but we were forced to pull our socks up.”

Toyokawa, who was only added to the squad along with Tokyo Verdy defender Kento Misao on Dec. 30, opened the scoring after 11 minutes, sweeping home a pass from Shinya Yajima.

“I made the squad right at the last minute so I really wanted to deliver a result,” said Toyokawa.

Onaiu, who has a Japanese mother and Nigerian father, sealed victory in the 18th minute when he pounced on a loose ball following a shot from Sanfrecce Hiroshima livewire Takuma Asano.

“I feel like I am getting better little by little and I am glad that I was able to score a goal,” said Onaiu.

The U-23 Asian Championship gets under way on Jan. 12. Japan kicks off the first round against North Korea on Jan. 13 and then plays Thailand on the 16th and Saudi Arabia on the 19th.

The top two in each of the four groups advance to the quarterfinals. The two finalists and the winners of the third-place match qualify for Rio.

Japan, which reached the semifinals of the 2012 London Games, will aim to qualify for its sixth consecutive Olympics.