Japan Qualify For World Cup 2010 With Victory Over Uzbekistan
Japan became the first non-host country to qualify for the World Cup 2010 in South Africa following a close-fought 1-0 win at Uzbekistan.
A goal from free-scoring Shinji Okazaki early in the first half was sufficient to send the Blue Samurais through to their fourth consecutive World Cup, whilst Uzbekistan are out of the reckoning for qualification.
Okazaki delighted the visiting contingent with a headed effort after only nine minutes, and although both sides had opportunities after that, accuracy was at a premium, and Japan's pace caused problems for the hosts' possession play.
The Wolfsburg duo of Makoto Hasebe and substitute Yoshito Okubo caused problems for the hosts up until the end, but a late sending off for the former put only a small dampener on the occasion.
Japan were also the first team to qualify for World Cup 2006; meanwhile Uzbekistan need all results to go their way to reach the third-place playoff spot.
Australia could qualify this evening, too, with a win at Qatar.