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Japan became the first team to qualify for the 2010 World Cup when it defeated Uzbekistan 1-0 on June 6. It will be its fourth consecutive appearance in the World Cup since its debut in the 1998 finals in France.

Coach Takeshi Okada wants his team to become one of the top four in next year’s World Cup Finals in South Africa. Given the team’s past World Cup performances, this is a very ambitious goal. In the 1998 tournament in France, Mr. Okada coached the team but it lost all three of its matches. In the 2002 World Cup, which was co-hosted by Japan and South Korea, coach Philippe Troussier’s team made it to the last 16. But in the 2006 World Cup in Germany, coach Zico’s team suffered two defeats and one draw.

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