Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Friday, June 14, 2002
Japan Advances with Easy Win over Tunisia
Co-hosts Japan advanced into the second round of the World Cup finals with an easy 2-0 win over Tunisia Friday. Japan collected 7 points from two wins and one draw. The win makes the Japanese team the winners of Group H, who will play runners-up Turkey of Group C.
Japan gained a historic place in the World Cup's final round of 16 with a 2-0 victory Friday over Tunisia as the co-hosts advanced on second-half goals by substitute Hiroaki Morishima and midfield playmaker Hidetoshi Nakata.
Appearing in only its second World Cup finals, Japan would have advanced with only a draw _ and perhaps a loss. The victory put it atop Group H and avoided a second-round match with four-time champion Brazil. Instead, Japan will face Turkey on Tuesday.
Brazil, winner of Group C, will face Belgium, No. 2 in Group H, on Monday. Belgium defeated Russia 3-2 in Friday's other Group H match.
Coming in to start the second half, Morishima took advantage of poor Tunisian defending in the 48th minute. As the ball rolled free in the area, Morishima got a clear right-footed shot off and drove it behind Tunisian 'keeper Ali Boumnijel from 10 meters (yards).
Nakata, Japan's acknowledged star, scored his first goal of the tournament in the 75th, taking a cross from Daisuke Ichikawa and heading it home from 7 meters (yards).
"I'm very proud,'' said Japan's French coach Philippe Troussier. ``You can see the blue fever. We have been at our best in the tournament. We can be very proud of the performance of the players.''
"Today we feel very rewarded for our efforts. We are really very, very happy. It's a beautiful story we have created. .... We are not tired, we are right on target, we are calm and confident going ahead.''
Japan lost all three games in its World Cup debut in '98 in France _ scoring only one goal _ but has used fanatic home crowd support this time and the guidance of Troussier to beat Russia 1-0 and draw Belgium 2-2.
In the first World Cup played in Asia, the other co-host South Korea needed only a draw in its match later Friday against Portugal to also advance to the final 16.
North Korea in 1966 was the first Asian team to reach the second round, losing in the quarterfinals to Portugal.
Tunisia managed only one point after a 2-0 loss to Russia and 1-1 draw with Belgium.
Both sides started slowly in the first half put picked it up in the second half, pushed on by the early goals.
Neither team did any damage in the first 20 minutes. Japan had only one meek shot and Tunisia did not manage any.
It wasn't until the 22nd that Japan picked up the first corner of the match, and not until the 34th that Japan had a serious shot on goal. Ziad Jaziri had Tunisia's best chance when he turned and fired wide from 18 meters (yards) in the 38th.
Japan coach Troussier made no changes to his starting lineup. As expected, defender Ryuzo Morioka, who injured his ankle in the team's first game against Belgium and didn't play against Russia, was not in the lineup. Tsuneyasu Miyamoto started in his place.
Tunisia needed a victory to have a shot at advancing.