TOSU, SAGA PREF. – Rio de Janeiro-bound Japan defeated Ghana 3-0 behind a trio of well-struck goals on Wednesday in a charity match dedicated to the victims of last month’s Kyushu earthquakes.
Shinya Yajima bagged a brace and Cayman Togashi chipped in with one for Makoto Teguramori’s under-23 side, which has just the May 18-29 Toulon International in France and a June 29 friendly at home against South Africa before heading to the Summer Games.
Before the game at Best Amenity Stadium, Japan’s two-time World Cup coach Takeshi Okada and the Sagan Tosu players did their part, calling for donations from the fans in exchange for a handshake.
The Japan players wore black armbands and a moment of silence was observed for the 49 claimed in the series of quakes in the Kyushu region centering on Kumamoto Prefecture since April 14. Close to 20,000 still remain in shelter homes.
Kumamoto-born defender Naomichi Ueda was named captain in a thoughtful gesture by Teguramori, who feels Ueda’s pain, having had to steer Vegalta Sendai through the March 11, 2011, earthquake and its aftermath.
Yajima brought the game to life with a tremendous shot after 11 minutes, hitting the back of the net on his first touch from a pass by Ryota Oshima.
Yajima struck again just four minutes later with similar authority. Gakuto Notsuda set the sequence in motion by sending Yukitoshi Ito down the right wing for a cross by the far post to Yajima, who volleyed home past the flailing arms of goalkeeper Richard Ofori.
The hosts made it 3-0 right on the half-hour with another superbly taken goal this time through Togashi, who, from a ball by Takuma Asano in the area, beautifully chipped Ofori as the pressure came in.
The crowd of 11,038 was keen for more goals in the second half but after Teguramori made four halftime substitutions, and two more before the final whistle, Japan could not click to produce the opportunities to add to their tally.