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Keisuke Honda nearly drove Japan to victory against the Ivory Coast
A memorable time at last year's Confederations Cup earmarked Japan as a potential banana skin for many of world football's powerhouses, particularly as they almost had the beating of Italy in a thrilling 4-3 goalfest.
Coming up against an Ivory Coast side aiming to get out of their group for the first time ever, Alberto Zaccheroni's outfit knew they faced a tough test.
And so it proved as Les Elephantes eventually took home all three points to jump to second in Group C, just behind Colombia.
But Keisuke Honda proved himself more than a handful for Ivory Coast's back-four, as he hassled and harried them with a few slick moves and skills of his own.
In fact, it was the 28-year-old who struck first to give the Japanese real hope of getting something out of the tie, with an absolutely glorious left-footed belter from just inside the 18-yard box.
Fans at the San Siro will hope new manager and club legend Fillipo Inzaghi puts Honda's skills to good use in the Serie A next season, because when he's striking goals like this, creating chances and hassling defences for most of the match, it's clear Japan's No. 4 has plenty of goals in him.
Shinji Kagawa is Japan's golden boy at the moment, and while he did his best in their first match of the competition, it was Honda who really shone brightest of all.
If he can continue to prove an inspiration to the rest of his team-mates, they might just have enough resolve to finally get past the second round—a barrier they've failed to clear time and again.