Japan, Peru finish goalless in Kirin Cup

Japan and Peru played to a goalless draw in the opening match of
the Kirin Cup on Wednesday.

Playing its first match since the March 11 earthquake and
tsunami hit the country’s northeastern coast, Japan controlled the
flow of play but was unable to capitalize on its chances.

Peru defender Jesus Rabanal took forward Ryoichi Maeda down 10
minutes after the break and Keisuke Honda sent a curling free kick
just over the crossbar in Japan’s best chance.

Peru seized control late in the second half and looked to have
secured the win when substitute Raul Ruidiaz’s right-footed volley
got past Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima but hit the post.

”My players did a good job,” Peru coach Sergio Markarian said.
”We had good chances and good shots and on another day might have
won but Japan is a strong team and made some good decisions.”

Peru faces the Czech Republic on Saturday while Japan will play
the Czechs on Tuesday. Both teams made the trip to Japan after
receiving assurance that the post-earthquake nuclear crisis posed
no risk for players.

Japan captain Makoto Hasebe threatened 23 minutes in when he
took a pass from Yasuhito Endo and sent a right-footed shot just
wide of the post.

Adan Balbin had Peru’s best chance of the first half three
minutes later with a long-range shot that was deflected just over
the crossbar by Kawashima.

Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni was using the three-nation
tournament as a warmup for his team’s qualifying campaign for the
2014 World Cup beginning in September.

”We had a different lineup and I was able to look at some new
players,” Zaccheroni said. ”We were better in the second half and
can take some positives from this game.”

Markarian named a predominantly home-based squad and was giving
his younger players some international experience.