SAITAMA, Japan, June 11 (AFP) - Japan coach Zico's final warm-up match for this month's Confederations Cup ended in limited success as a largely reserve team held Paraguay to a goalless draw in the Kirin Cup tournament on Wednesday.
Zico used only four first-choice players -- Parma midfielder Hidetoshi Nakata, Reggina's Shunsuke Nakamura, SV Hamburg striker Naohiro Takahara and goalkeeper Seigo Narazaki -- and instead gave his substitutes a chance to prepare for the Confederations Cup tournament in France, which starts on June 18.
"I'm very satisfied," said Zico, the former Brazilian star. "It was a game that we could have won and although we didn't, we played really well. We created many scoring chances while our keeper (Seigo) Narazaki had only one dangerous shot to deal with.
"Paraguay's defence was very tight with seven or eight players coming back quickly, and it's very difficult to score against them. I'm really satisfied with the way we played."
Paraguay coach Anibal Ruiz was disappointed.
"I'm not satisfied at all. We can play much better. Especially in the first half, we were too defensive and allowed the Japanese to attack. I was very disappointed," said the Uruguayan.
Japan got off to a good start, piling pressure on the visitors who were restricted to the occasional counter-attack.
Nakamura hit the first shot on goal in the fifth minute, which bounced back off goalkeeper Ricardo Tavarelli and Takahara's follow-up went over the bar.
Yoshihito Okubo was unsuccessful with headers in the 22nd and 28th minute, while Takahara's shot from the edge of the area was easily caught by Tavarelli. Japan continued to take the upper hand in the second half and had a good chance in the 52nd minute when Alessandro Santos, playing in the left side back for the first time in the national team, narrowly missed after being picked out by Nakamura's pass.
A sell-out crowd of 59,891 at the national stadium held its breath four minutes later when Gustavo Morinigo mis-fired and the ball landed on top of the Japanese net.
Yoshito Okubo quickly netted after a Santos pass, only to be ruled "offside" in the 75th minute.
Paraguay, who reached the last 16 in the 2002 World Cup, now have two wins, one defeat and six draws under coach Anibal Ruiz in his preparation for the World Cup qualifying rounds starting in September.
For Japan, it was a third draw with one win and three defeats since Brazilian legend Zico succeeded French coach Philippe Troussier after the World Cup co-hosted by Japan and South Korea.
The 2000 Asian Cup winners Japan will leave for France to play New Zealand, the 1998 World Cup winners France, and Colombia in the Confederations Cup which gets under way next Wednesday.