Japan’s players were booed off the pitch Wednesday after losing 3-0
to Serbia in a World Cup warm-up match.
Dragan Mrda’s two first-half goals gave Serbia a comfortable
lead and midfielder Nemanja Tomic put the game out of Japan’s reach
on the hour mark with a free kick from 30 meters (yards).
Japan coach Takeshi Okada and Serbia counterpart Radomir
Antic used the game to give younger players a chance to make their
case for World Cup selection.
But Japan’s fans were not pleased with their team’s efforts,
jeering the players as they walked off at the final whistle.
“A match at a time like this is difficult for all the players
and we also had some injuries,” Okada said. “But whatever game it
is, the players are representing Japan and I think they needed to
dig a bit deeper, especially when we were losing. We lacked
Mrda opened the scoring in the 15th minute, taking a pass
from captain Radosav Petrovic and beating Japan goalkeeper Seigo
Narazaki with a left-footed shot from just inside the area.
The Serbia forward doubled the lead eight minutes later when
he picked up a loose ball in the six-meter (yard) box and calmly
fired past Narazaki.
“This was a good result for us,” Serbia assistant coach
Radovan Curcic said. “All the players we brought here are from
domestic leagues but they have shown that they will be competing
for a place on the team against the regulars in the near future.”
Japan’s best chance came in the 58th minute when substitute
Naohiro Ishikawa broke free but shot straight at Serbia goalkeeper
Zeljko Brkic. Tomic rounded off the scoring minutes later with a
Serbia is in Group D with Germany, Ghana and Australia while
Japan has been drawn in Group E with the Netherlands, Denmark and