• Kyodo

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Koki Mizuno and Keisuke Honda struck in the first half as Japan beat Syria 2-0 on Wednesday to secure a place in the final round of Asian qualifiers for next year’s Beijing Olympics.

Japan’s Under-22s lead Group B with a maximum 12 points from four matches, with two matches left to play in the Asian second round. The top two from the four-team group advance to the final round scheduled to be played between Aug. 22 and Nov. 21.

JEF United Chiba midfielder Mizuno put the away side ahead when he powered in a left-foot shot from 25 meters in the 18th minute, and Nagoya Grampus Eight midfielder Honda then doubled the lead in the 44th when he took the ball from Mizuno’s swinging corner on his chest and drove home a half volley from close range.

“My players started well and scoring first was the key in our win,” Japan coach Yasuharu Sorimachi said. Japan will next face Hong Kong away on May 16 and Malaysia at Tokyo’s National Stadium on June 6.

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