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Japan edges Cyprus in friendly
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 28 - 05 - 2014

SAITAMA, Japan — Defender Atsuto Uchida scored late in the first half Tuesday as Japan beat Cyprus 1-0 in the team's final match on home soil before departing for the World Cup.
Uchida put Japan ahead in the 43rd minute when he picked up a rebound off a save by Cyprus goalkeeper Panos Constantinoy and calmly tapped in from close range.
Japan, which is preparing for its fifth consecutive World Cup campaign, faces Ivory Coast, Greece and Colombia in Group C in Brazil.
Alberto Zaccheroni's team will leave Japan Thursday for a training camp in Florida that includes warm-up matches against Costa Rica and Zambia. On Monday, Russia started its World Cup countdown with a 1-0 win over Slovakia while Australia was held to a 1-1 draw by South Africa.
Belgium, tipped by many to make a big impression in Brazil, was also in action, crushing Luxembourg 5-1.
Fabio Capello picked a strong team for its win over Slovakia in St Petersburg with Zenit St Petersburg forward Alexander Kerzhakov heading the only goal eight minutes from time.
Alexander Kokorin thought he had put Russia in front after latching on to a glorious through ball by Sergei Ignashevich before lifting the ball over goalkeeper Jan Mucha but English referee Mark Clattenburg ruled it out for offside.
Belgium got back to winning ways after a four-match sequence without a victory as Romelu Lukaku hit a hat trick to secure a 5-1 friendly win over Luxembourg.
Three weeks before its World Cup opener, Belgium showed off the neat passing that has prompted many to tip them to do well in Brazil and also blooded three debutants, including 19-year-old Manchester United winger Adnan Januzaj. Substitute Nacer Chadli scored Belgium's fourth, while Kevin De Bruyne converted a 91st minute penalty.
Pierre Webo and Eric Maxim Choup-Moting scored as Cameroon beat Macedonia 2-0 in Austria while fellow qualifiers Iran was held to a 0-0 draw by Montenegro.
Police investigate friendly
British police are reportedly looking into allegations of attempted match-fixing involving a friendly between Scotland and Nigeria to be played in London Wednesday.
The Daily Telegraph newspaper website said Tuesday that officers from the National Crime Agency (NCA) have asked FIFA “to issue an alert over potential attempts to rig the game.”
The NCA, which investigates organized crime, and FIFA both declined to comment on the report. — Agencies


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