Japan net vital equaliser at home
As the Socceroos asserted their authority on the Asian World Cup qualifying group stage, Japan was lucky to escape with a draw. Up against the out-of-form Uzbekistan outfit in front of a home crowd, Japan were expected to gather three points but instead faltered and succumbed to brilliant Uzbek pressure. It was the opportunist goal from forward Keiji Tamada that saved the embarrassment of the Japanese after the opener from Maksim Shatskikh in the 28th minute put Uzbekistan in front. Japanese coach Takeshi Okada was confident his team could bounce back in future qualifiers. "Uzbekistan were desperate after losing two games earlier and they were aggressive. We couldn't add another goal, but it sometimes happens in a long tournament," he told The Age. "I was very disappointed because we needed a win, but my players did very well to score a goal. We will do our best to win the remaining game of the year against Qatar away." Japan now sits second on the Group A table with four points, equal with Qatar but ahead on goal difference whilst Uzbekistan have only one point from three games.