• Kyodo

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The Japanese men downed Taiwan while their female compatriots were narrowly defeated by China on Tuesday in Kobe, the opening day of handball’s Asian qualifiers for next year’s Athens Olympics.

Competing at Green Arena Kobe, the seven-man Japanese team, led by ace attacker Daisuke Miyazaki, came from behind to earn a 26-20 win aided by goalkeeper Toshiro Tsubone’s many fine saves.

The Japanese team is aiming at gaining its first Olympic berth since the 1988 Seoul Olympics. The Japanese women, erasing a seven-point first-half deficit, came close to tying the Chinese squad with a dying-minute goal only to lose 21-20.

The Japanese team is seeking its first Olympic berth since the 1976 Montreal games.

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