AFC Asian Cup holders Japan beat Oman 3-0 on Sunday in the first match of the final Asian qualifying round for the 2014 FIFA World Cup™. Goals early in both halves gave the hosts a comfortable win at the Saitama stadium, with CSKA Moscow midfielder Keisuke Honda first on the scoresheet in the 12th minute, shooting into the right corner from a Yuto Nagatomo cross.
Two-time J.League top scorer Ryoichi Maeda scored via the left upright in the 51st minute, and he had another shot blocked three minutes later only for Stuttgart forward Shinji Okazaki to collect the rebound and make it 3-0.
"We were a bit tense at the beginning, but I wanted to win. I'm glad that we won," said Honda. "I scored the goal as I planned to do. I think we relaxed with that goal."
Maeda, who plays for Jubilo Iwata, added: "We will have the next game very soon. I'm going to refresh and prepare for the game. As for my goal, I'm happy, because I missed a header shortly before. I want to score goals again."
Japan dominated throughout the 90 minutes, with Oman limited to a single shot on target through midfielder Fawzi Doorbeen at the end of the first half, and never able to create another clear scoring chance.
A total of ten Asian countries are split into two groups of five for the continent's fourth qualifying round, with the group winners and runners-up earning places in Brazil, and the third-placed teams going into play-offs.
"It was our first game, so it was important to get off to a good start," said Japan's Italian coach Alberto Zaccheroni. "I think we can play well in the next two games. We were able to concentrate because of the support of so many people at the stadium."
Japan will play Jordan on Friday, with Australia and Iraq their other opponents in Group B.