Saudi Arabia 0-5 Japan
Al Rayyan, 17/01/2011
Scorers: Okazaki (3), Maeda (2)
Unofficial Football World Champions Japan defended their title in fine style, putting five goals past a hapless Saudi Arabia to take the UFWC title into the knock-out stages of the Asian Cup. Scoring had been a problem for Japan in the run-up to this competition, but they were three-up within 20 minutes against a disappointing Saudi Arabia side, who had already been eliminated from the tournament.
The Blue Samurai went into the match without the likes of Daisuke Matsui, and with goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima suspended after being sent off in the previous game. Saudi Arabia, despite having entered the tournament as one of the favourites, were playing for pride having already been beaten by Jordan and Syria.
Japan opened the scoring in the eighth minute – and in fine style. A great ball from Yasuhito Endo saw Shinji Okazaki beat the offside trap and flick the ball over the Saudi keeper before tapping it into the net.
Three minutes later, Okazaki doubled his tally, taking advantage of some appalling Saudi defending to head home from a Shinji Kagawa cross. On 19 minutes it was three, and this goal was the best so far, with Ryoichi Maeda flicking a Yuto Nagatomo cross into the net with the outside of his right boot.
The second half was no less enjoyable for Japanese fans. Goal number four was a textbook header, with Maeda bursting into the box to nod home a right wing cross. Then Okazaki claimed his hat-trick on 79 minutes, combining with Maeda to turn in the box and shoot past the keeper. By now, even the Saudi fans were cheering this Japanese display.
So Japan retain the UFWC title, and take it with them as they progress to the next round of the Asian Cup. Japan topped qualifying group B on goal difference ahead of Jordan. That means the Blue Samurai will play hosts Qatar, who beat China and Kuwait to finish second in group A. Qatar, like many sides in this tournament, have never played in a UFWC title match before.
Japan vs Qatar will be played this Friday 21 January in Doha, kick off 16:25 local time (13:25 UK time). We’ll be building up to the big match as usual right here, so keep checking the site and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.