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National team manager Vahid Halilhodzic singled out young debutants Kosuke Nakamura and Junya Ito for praise after Japan kicked off its E-1 Football Championship campaign with a fortunate 1-0 win over North Korea on Saturday.

Halilhodzic had goalkeeper Nakamura to thank for keeping Japan in the game at Ajinomoto Stadium after the 22-year-old made a string of important saves to keep out the lively North Koreans before Yosuke Ideguchi scored the winner in the 94th minute.

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