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By ESPN Staff

Japan line up Venezuela for pre-World Cup friendly

Japan will take on Venezuela at home on February 2 in a warm-up for next year's World Cup.

The friendly at Kyushu Oil Dome will be the first meeting between the two countries at senior level.

The Japanese Football Association have struggled to line up top-quality opposition before next year's World Cup in South Africa with a proposed game against Portugal in March the first to be scrapped.

Venezuela failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup but Japan coach Takeshi Okada told reporters: "Teams from South America always approach matches wanting to win. This game will help toughen Japan up."

Japan, who will bid to win their first World Cup finals match on foreign soil in South Africa, have been drawn with Netherlands, Cameroon and Denmark in Group E.

The "Blue Samurai" also play China, Hong Kong and fellow World Cup qualifiers South Korea at home in February's East Asian championships.

Japan's opponents for further friendly games on April 7 and May 24 have yet to be confirmed while JFA officials are hoping to add three more dates before the World Cup.

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