• Kyodo

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Japan got its Athens Olympics campaign off to a stuttering start Monday after being held to a 0-0 draw by unfancied Bahrain in their Group B opener in the final round of Asian qualifiers.

Group favorite Japan enjoyed long periods of pressure in stamina-sapping conditions at Al Jazira Stadium but was unable to find a way past a stubborn Bahrain side that fully deserved its share of the spoils.

Japan faces Lebanon on Wednesday before wrapping up its away campaign against the United Arab Emirates on Friday. The return legs in Group B will be played in Tokyo from March 14-18.

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