• Kyodo, staff report

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Japan’s men’s team will play friendlies against Cameroon and Ivory Coast in the Netherlands next month, the Japan Football Association announced Wednesday.

The Samurai Blue will face Cameroon at Stadion Galgenwaard in Utrecht on Oct. 9 before meeting Ivory Coast at the same ground on Oct. 13.

Japan will be the official host for both matches, which will be played without spectators to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. The JFA said that journalists would not be allowed to directly meet with players and that all media interactions would be held online.

All of Japan’s previous fixtures this year including several World Cup qualifiers have been postponed, making the two friendlies the side’s first of 2020.

“While people still face uncertainty and restrictions on their lives due to the risk of infection from the coronavirus, I think it is very significant for the Samurai Blue to be able to play these matches,” Japan manager Hajime Moriyasu said in a statement through the JFA.

“I think both Cameroon and Ivory Coast will be tough matches, but I want to put on a performance in the Netherlands that will make people watching want to get up the next day and give their best.”

Japan last played Cameroon in the 2010 World Cup, winning their group stage opener 1-0 through Keisuke Honda’s goal.

The Samurai Blue’s last encounter with Ivory Coast was a 2-1 defeat in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

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