Japan U-23 team beats Mexico

Kyodo

Japan’s under-23 national squad held on to an early lead and beat London Olympic champion Mexico 2-1 in a friendly on Friday.

FC Tokyo midfielder Shoya Nakajima scored two minutes into the match and Salzburg striker Takumi Minamino made it 2-0 in the 33rd minute in the first match since Japan won the Asian U-23 Championship in January to secure a place in this summer’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

“We had the advantage in terms of energy level. I’m so impressed with how they played, and feel like we can play decently against any team,” said coach Makoto Teguramori.

The tour was an opportunity for Teguramori to test the foreign-based players and narrow the roster down to a list of 18 players.

Japan plays Portuguese first-division leader Sporting in a training match on Monday. The draws for the Olympics soccer tournaments will be held on April 14 at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.