The result gives Japan, who have 10 points from four games, an eight-point lead at the top of Group B ahead of Tuesday’s later matches. The top two in two groups of five earn an automatic ticket to Brazil.It provided an unhappy return for former Japan coach Zico, whose makeshift Iraq line-up — hit by a series of injuries and suspensions — tested the hosts, especially in the opening exchanges.Iraq, who were unbeaten after drawing their first two games, started brightly and Japanese ‘keeper Eiji Kawashima was forced into action with a key stop in the opening minutes.But it was Japan who got the breakthrough when Stuttgart’s Shinji Okazaki fed Jubilo Iwata striker Maeda in the six-yard box for the game’s only goal.As half-time neared, the dangerous Ahmed Yaseen extended Kawashima with a goal-bound shot that was curling inside the far post.Japan looked more comfortable after the break, with CSKA Moscow playmaker Keisuke Honda a particular threat, and they finished the match with high hopes of reaching their fifth straight World Cup in Brazil.“It was really tough,” said Japan’s coach Alberto Zaccheroni. “We want to win the ticket to the World Cup as quickly as possible. I’m going to start thinking about our next game,” added the Italian.Japan will next play Oman away on November 14, while Iraq host Australia — in a third-party venue, due to security fears — on October 16.“We tried hard to win this game, but it ended in a defeat. Japan prepared for the game very well,” Zico said.The extent of Kagawa’s injury was not immediately clear. Manchester United have a Premiership clash at home against Wigan Athletic on Saturday and their Champions League opener is against Turkey’s Galatasaray next week.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000SAITAMA, Japan, September 11 – Asian champions Japan shrugged off the late injury withdrawal of Manchester United’s Shinji Kagawa to beat Iraq 1-0 and stay top of their group in 2014 World Cup qualifying on Tuesday.Japan, hit by the loss of Kagawa just before kick-off with back pain, rode their luck at times in front of a packed Saitama Stadium but ended with all three points thanks to Ryoichi Maeda’s headed goal on 25 minutes.
160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREStriving toward a more perfect me: Doug McIntyre owner of Prudential, said the event was an uplifting experience for volunteers and participants alike. “A lot of the children, you should have seen their eyes. It was a really big deal for us, having the pleasure to participate,” Alvarado said. “I got inspired. We’ve had some fantastic years (in real estate), and now that the market is soft, it’s not all about the getting, it’s about the giving.” He said area restaurants helping in “Project Thankfulness” included Red Robin, the 6740 Bar and Grill, Rocky Cola, Mimo’s Cafe, Red Oak BBQ and Camadera Bakery. – Tim Traeger Photo Gallery : Whittier business serves holiday meals The Whittier Salvation Army joined forces with Prudential California Uptown Realty and Pacific Western Mortgage on Thursday to feed about 30 women and 45 children a feast to kick off the holiday season. The women, often victims of domestic violence and substance abuse, are in the Salvation Army’s TLC program that helps them get back on their feet and re-enter society as positive and productive members. Hector Alvarado, broker/