Morimoto impresses on Japan debut

A highly impressive debut display from Takayuki Morimoto has ignited hopes that the Catania striker could add much needed firepower to Japan's 2010 FIFA World Cup™ bid.

The 21-year-old forward was sent on 56 minutes into a friendly against an under-strength Scotland on Saturday 10 October, before going on to have a hand in both goals in Japan's 2-0 win.

"Morimoto was so aggressive in getting into the goal mouth. That was more than I had expected of him," said coach Takeshi Okada. "He really is extraordinary."

Indeed, it was under pressure from the six-foot tall Morimoto that Wolverhampton Wanderers defender Christophe Berra slotted the ball into his own net when trying to clear a cross in the 82nd minute.

And then, with the game in injury time, Morimoto turned in front of goal and shot hard against a Scottish defender, with VVV-Venlo midfielder Keisuke Honda reacting first to slam in the rebound.

"I have always watched them (Japan) play since I was a kid," said the man of the moment. "I have come to feel strongly about Japan since I moved to Italy."

Morimoto joined Catania in August 2006 after two years with J-League side Tokyo Verdy, having been the youngest debutant in J-league history in March 2004 at the age of 15 years and 10 months.

In the Sports Hochi daily paper, reporters wrote that Morimoto, who is Catania's leading scorer so far this season with three, could "solve Japan's perennial problem: a lack of finishing power. Although Morimoto failed to score a debut goal, his presence has lit a ray of hope."

"I will have a headache selecting the team in future. It will be a nice headache though," said the coach, who used a host of substitutes against Scotland.

Japan, who qualified for the FIFA World Cup in South Africa by finishing second to Australia in Asian Zone Group A, will play Togo in another home friendly on Wednesday.

"If I am given a chance (against Togo), I will work hard to deliver the goods in front of the goal because I am a forward," vowed Morimoto.