japan solve goal woes

TOKYO - Catania forward Takayuki Morimoto's first international goal has boosted Japan's dream of making the World Cup semi-finals, adding extra firepower to a team lacking a top-notch striker.

TOKYO - Catania forward Takayuki Morimoto's first international goal has boosted Japan's dream of making the World Cup semi-finals, adding extra firepower to a team lacking a top-notch striker.

"Morimoto's first goal. Ready to solve the shortage of finishing power!" exclaimed a headline in the Sports Hochi daily yesterday, the morning after Japan blanked a second-string Togo 5-0 at home in Sendai.

The 21-year-old Morimoto, who has scored three goals in Italy's Serie A this season, made his international debut in Japan's 2-0 win over an under-strength Scotland four nights earlier.

He scored Japan's third goal against Togo in the 11th minute, trapping a low cross from Yuto Nagatomo and swivelling to rifle home.

Japan coach Takeshi Okada, who tested the marksman only in the first 45 minutes, said: "He may still have a lot of things to do before making the first team. But I think he is already good enough as a trump card."

Okazaki scored a hat trick against Togo, who arrived in Japan with only 14 players after eight pulled out, including Manchester City striker Emmanuel Adebayor.

Togo lost 3-0 to Cameroon on Saturday and missed a ticket to South Africa 2010.

Japan, who qualified for the World Cup by finishing second to Australia in Asian Group A, travel to Johannesburg for another friendly against South Africa on November 14.

Okada, who piloted Japan to an unsuccessful World Cup debut in 1998, is aiming for a last four spot in South Africa.

Their best finish was the last 16 in 2002, when they co-hosted the tournament with South Korea. - Sapa-AFP

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