• FT

    North Korea

    2

    Jordan

    0

  • FT

    Thailand

    0

    Japan

    3

  • FT

    Singapore

    0

    Saudi Arabia

    2

  • FT

    China

    1

    Iraq

    2

  • FT

    Turkmenistan

    1

    South Korea

    3

  • FT

    Uzbekistan

    3

    Lebanon

    0

  • FT

    Qatar

    1

    Australia

    3

  • FT

    Bahrain

    1

    Oman

    1

  • FT

    Syria

    0

    Iran

    2

  • FT

    Kuwait

    2

    UAE

    3

WORLD CUP QUALIFYING - AFC

Rajamangala Stadium

Referee: Ali Al Badwawi | Attendance: 30000

* Local time based on your geographic location.

0 - 3

FT

Japan

  • Marcus Tulio Tanaka 23'
  • Yuji Nakazawa 39'
  • Kengo Nakamura 89'

Japan 3-0 Thailand: Pressure eases on Okada

BANGKOK, June 14 (Reuters) - Japan virtually assured

themselves of a place in the final round of World Cup qualifiers

after a 3-0 win over strugglers Thailand on Saturday.

Lifted by a jubilant, mostly Japanese crowd at Bangkok's

Rajamangala stadium, Japan overpowered an error-prone Thai team

with goals from Tulio, Yuji Nakazawa and Kengo Nakamura, and

will advance to the final 10 if Oman fail to beat Group 2

leaders Bahrain in Manama later on Saturday.

The victory will help ease the pressure on coach Takeshi

Okada, who has been criticised for his team's patchy start to

the campaign.

Okada, who led the Japanese to their first World Cup in 1998

during his first stint in charge, said his team had now found

their feet in the competition.

'I think we will get better and better the more we play in

the competition,' Okada told reporters. 'Our technique has been

good but we've been lacking the will to win.

'The first half we had to attack and we did whatever it was

to win. We didn't have to push ourselves too much. It was hot

and humid but we played well throughout.'

The three-times Asian champions attacked right from the

start and got off the mark after 23 minutes when Tulio rose to

head home a curling cross from Yasuhito Endo.

With midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura tantalising the Thai

defence, Japan always looked dangerous and punished the hosts

with a succession of neatly-contrived set pieces.

Endo nearly made it two when his well-struck free kick

cannoned off the crossbar but Japan found their second in the

38th minute when Nakazawa's powerful header sailed into the net

from an Endo corner.

Kengo Nakamura sealed the win with two minutes remaining

when he broke free in the area and blasted into the bottom right

corner.

Thai coach Charnwit Polcheewin said his team never had a

chance and the defeat showed the huge gap between Asian and

Southeast Asian soccer, which the Thais have dominated for

decades.

'We were under constant pressure in the first half, Japan

played very well. We just couldn't play, we were just kicking

the ball away all the time,' Charnwit told reporters.

'We need to step up. We need to move to the next level. Our

players are small, we struggle with the high ball. We need to

start winning at Asian level.'

Oman must win their remaining two games, one of which is

away to Japan, by huge scorelines to stand any hope of reaching

the next round at Japan's expense.

Japan join Bahrain on 10 points, trailed by Oman (4) and

Thailand (1). The top two teams go through.