OITA – Asian champion Japan was held to a goalless draw by the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon on Wednesday night in their Kirin Challenge Cup friendly.
Japan lacked a cutting edge in front of goal in a dull affair played in front of 38,627 spectators at Oita Stadium Big Eye and was indebted to goalkeeper Seigo Narazaki, who produced an inspired second-half performance to help extend the national team’s unbeaten run to three matches.
Wednesday’s match was the first for Japan since beating Tunisia 1-0 and holding Romania to a 1-1 draw in last month’s tour of Europe and Africa.
Germany-based striker Naohiro Takahara missed a golden opportunity to give Japan the lead after 12 minutes when he hit a lay off from Atsushi Yanagisawa straight at the legs of Cameroon goalkeeper Idriss Kameni from close range.
Cameroon created few clear-cut opportunities in a scrappy first half, although Tokyo Verdy striker Patrick Mboma was unlucky to see a superb effort fizz just wide after 32 minutes following some poor defending by Nobuhisa Yamada.
Japan wasted countless opportunities from set pieces in an equally uneventful second period and had Narazaki to thank for pulling off a superb save to keep out a free-kick from Cameroon captain Geremi in the 63rd minute.
Narazaki kept the African champions at bay again as he bravely thwarted substitute Achille Webo’s shot in the 73rd minute, before getting down well to smother another effort from Chelsea defender Geremi.
Japan beat Cameroon 2-0 the last time the two teams met in the 2001 Confederations Cup.
A minute’s silence was held before Wednesday’s game in memory of Marc-Vivien Foe, the Cameroon player who died after their Confederations Cup semifinal against Colombia in June.
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