Thursday, October 11, 2012

11 October 2011 - The Japanese Sun Sets On Tajikistan

On 11 October 2011, a couple of Japanese players scored their first international goals as they handed Tajikistan a record loss.

The occasion was a third-round match in Asian Football Confederation for the 2012 World Cup, with Japan hosting Tajikistan at Nagai Stadium in Osaka. Up to that point, all five games played earlier in the group had ended either 1-0 or 1-1, including two games each for Japan and Tajikistan, so nobody was quite prepared for what happened next.

Striker Mike Havenaar (pictured), in second appearance for Japan and first start, scored the opener--his first for the national team--with an 11th-minute header. It was followed by goals from Shinji Okazaki (19'), Yuichi Komano (35', his first for Japan), and Shinji Kagawa (41') to stretch the lead to 4-0 at the break.

In the second half, Havenaar again led off with a header (47'). Kengo Nakamura added one on the 56th minute before both Kagawa (68') and Okazaki (74') scored again. The final 8-0 margin set a new record low for Tajikistan, who proceeded to finish last in the group, eliminating them from qualification. Japan advanced to the fourth round, where they currently sit at the top of their group.

As impressive as the win was for Japan, it fell far short of their record victory, a 15-0 win over the Philippines in 1967.

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