Japan loses 2-1 to Canada in the last friendly before the World Cup

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Japan lost 2-1 to Canada in their final pre-World Cup friendly in Qatar and conceded a decisive penalty against the North Americans at Dubai’s Al-Maktoum Stadium on Thursday.

Moments after missing an opportunity to be the hero when he hit the post on a counter-attack, second-half substitute Miki Yamane turned villain when he tripped Mark-Anthony Kaye in the penalty area, allowing Lucas Cavallini to post the winner from the spot in the 95th. minute.

Canada’s Lucas Cavallini (9) scores the winner from the penalty spot in the final minutes of a friendly against Japan in Dubai on November 17, 2022 ahead of the World Cup in Qatar.

Japan’s Yuki Soma (24) opens the scoring during the first half of a friendly against Canada in Dubai on November 17, 2022, ahead of the World Cup in Qatar. (TBEN)

Nagoya Grampus winger Yuki Soma gave the Samurai Blue the lead with his athletic effort in the eighth minute, leaping through the air to volley home a ball over the top of Gaku Shibasaki.

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Japan’s suspicious defense came into the spotlight 13 minutes later on a corner, with Junior Hoilett’s swinging kick receiving a touch from Atiba Hutchinson before Steven Vitoria scored the equalizer from right in front.

The lackluster performance from the Japanese side offered limited clues about team selections for the tournament, with manager Hajime Moriyasu seemingly opting to give as many players a run as possible, rather than point his hand ahead of their Group E opener against Germany on Wednesday .

“It’s disappointing that we couldn’t win,” said Moriyasu. “I think it was a blow to the players, but the preparations we have to make for our next game will not change.”

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Takuma Asano made his competitive return after a nearly two-month absence with a knee injury, starting as a lone striker for an attacking trio of Soma, Takumi Minamino and Takefuso Kubo.

Japan, ranked 24 in the world, was without winger Kaoru Mitoma, whose arrival in Qatar has been delayed by illness, while Wataru Endo, who recently suffered a concussion, and Hidemasa Morita, who has a calf problem, are in camp in Doha left behind.

Several regular starters, including captain Maya Yoshida and attacking bougie Daichi Kamada, only came in as late substitutes.

Meanwhile, manager John Herdman’s 41st Canadian squad, returning to the World Cup after a 36-year absence, missed star player Alphonso Davies, who was still recovering from a hamstring injury he sustained while playing for Bayern Munich.

Japan created only a handful of solid chances, including a solo effort from Kubo that slipped just wide to give Japan a 1-0 lead. They also gave several counterattacks to the fast and physical Canadians that could have been costly against more relentless opposition.

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After kicking off their campaign against Germany, Japan will also face Costa Rica and Spain in a tough Group E in Qatar.

Japan’s Yuki Soma (24) opens the scoring during the first half of a friendly against Canada in Dubai on November 17, 2022, ahead of the World Cup in Qatar. (TBEN)

Japan’s Yuki Soma (L) celebrates with teammates after opening the scoring during the first half of a friendly against Canada in Dubai on November 17, 2022 ahead of the World Cup in Qatar. (TBEN)

Japan (blue) and Canada (red) will play a friendly in Dubai on November 17, 2022 ahead of the World Cup in Qatar. (TBEN)