Japan 1-0 Cyprus
Atsuto Uchida offered a timely reminder to Arsenal of his goal-scoring qualities with the only strike of the game against Cyprus.
The Schalke right-back, who has been linked with the Gunners (according to Ross Dunbar of the Daily Mirror), was on hand to slot home the winner in the World Cup warm-up game in Saitama, Japan.
Uchida struck in the 43rd minute of a disappointing match for the home supporters, who were looking for a goal spree from their side against the Cypriots in Japan's last match on home soil before departing for the World Cup in Brazil.
The Schalke defender was first to pounce when Cyprus goalkeeper Panos Constantinoy could only parry a Shinji Kagawa effort, and Uchida slotted home.
The goal came on Uchida's first taste of action since January, after a thigh injury wrecked his Bundesliga season with Schalke.
Japan head coach Alberto Zaccheroni gave Manchester United midfielder Kagawa a start in the game and was almost rewarded with a fine second-half goal.
However, Constantinov produced a fine save low to his left to deny the Old Trafford star.
There were cheers around the ground in the second half when Yoshito Okubo was introduced as a substitute, over two years since his last appearance for Japan in February 2012.
However, it remained an unconvincing display by the home side, who almost saw Cyprus level five minutes before the end when Marios Stylianou missed a gilt-edged opportunity.
Japan will be facing Ivory Coast, Greece and Colombia in their group matches when the World Cup kicks off.
But they will now head to Florida for warm-weather training and two friendly matches against Costa Rica and Zambia.
Zaccheroni was quoted by The Japan Times as saying after the game:
The team played alright, but we had a physically demanding camp in Ibusuki so we weren’t in top condition but our decision-making was good.
Our aim is to be ready for our first match.
Uchida has recently returned to action after injury, and dedicated his goal to the medical staff for helping him towards fitness for the World Cup, as The Japan Times reported.
Uchida is quoted as saying:
I have been injured and it was touch and go whether I would make it, but I was chosen for the squad.
I was looking to score tonight and I want to dedicate the goal to the medical staff who helped me get better.
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