Japan wrapped up a successful Asian Cup qualifying campaign with a 2-0 win over Bahrain at Toyota Stadium today. With both sides already assured of qualification, Shimizu S-Pulse striker Shinji Okazaki opened the scoring in the first half before CSKA Moscow midfielder Keisuke Honda sealed top spot in Group A in stoppage time.
Former Celtic midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura, fresh from his recent return to Japan with Yokohama F. Marinos following a disappointing spell in Spain with Espanyol, provided the cross for Okazaki to head home at the far post after 36 minutes in Aichi Prefecture.
Japan continued to dominate after the break and Honda failed to convert Nakamura's cross from close range in the opening minutes of the second half. The home side had to survive a scare as Bahrain striker Ismaeel Latif raced to latch onto Salman Isa's cross but just failed to provide a crucial touch.
But three minutes into added time Honda met Atsuto Uchida's cross as Takeshi Okada's side bounced back from a much-criticised performance in last month's East Asian Championship.
"Before the game, I told our players to show the people their winning attitude as I wanted them to focus on the game," said Okada. "Considering the fact that we had only two days to prepare for this game, I think we did so well. It's our first time to beat Bahrain by two goals."
In Hong Kong, the hosts picked up their first point of the campaign with a goalless draw against Yemen.