• Kyodo


The Japan under-22 national team walloped Myanmar 9-0 behind first-half hat tricks by Musashi Suzuki and Shoya Nakajima on Wednesday in their last warm-up ahead of the upcoming 2016 Olympic qualifiers.

Suzuki and Nakajima each finished with four while Takuya Iwanami added one in the lopsided affair at Fukuda Denshi Arena.

The first phase of Rio de Janeiro Olympic qualification for Japan begins on March 27 in Malaysia against Macau, followed by Vietnam and the hosts with just a day in between games.

“I just happened to be on the end of some good balls,” Suzuki said. “But we can do a lot better. There were periods where we made some mistakes. We have to play better football.

“Four years ago today a lot of people lost their lives. We hope we were able to inspire even a few people through today’s performance.”

Before kickoff, a moment of silence was observed for the victims of the March 11, 2011, disasters that ravaged eastern Japan four years ago and left more than 18,000 dead or missing.

After kickoff, Myanmar had to endure a brutal 90 minutes, conceding seven times in the opening half alone starting in the eighth minute, when Suzuki swept home from close range off a mistake by goalkeeper Kyaw Zin Phyo.

Five minutes later, Nakajima got in on the action with his first of the night and the contest was all but over by the 21st minute as defender Iwanami headed into the net to make it 3-0.

Suzuki bagged his second after 25 minutes and the Albirex Niigata striker had his hat trick complete by the 41st before Nakajima netted twice more by halftime to cap his own treble.

Japan, which pumped out 26 shots against two by Myanmar, showed no mercy in the second half with Suzuki stretching out the gap to eight in the 51st minute and Nakajima matching Suzuki’s tally on the hour mark.

Given the obvious difference in class, the huge margin of victory was unsurprising, but Japan coach Makoto Teguramori remained pleased with the overall performance from his charges.

“I told the team it was important to try to be of any help we can for those who have suffered,” said Teguramori, who managed Vegalta Sendai in 2011 when the quake hit the region.

“There was a bit of a gap between the two teams in the end, but the boys didn’t let up and I’m happy with the effort level. We probably could have been more accurate in certain parts but I’m sure we’ll be able to make the adjustments we need.”

Ryota Oshima was a last-minute scratch after experiencing discomfort in his left calf during warm-ups, but is expected to be fine for his club Kawasaki Frontale this weekend.


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