TOKYO (Reuters) - Trinidad and Tobago held a tired-looking Japan to a 0-0 draw during an uninspiring friendly at Toyota Stadium in Aichi on Wednesday.
Japan have played 15 games since the World Cup, having reached the finals of the Asian Games and Asian Cup, and Hajime Moriyasu’s men looked fatigued, failing to break down Trinidad and Tobago, ranked 67 places below them.
Shoya Nakajima looked the most likely to break the deadlock for the hosts, raining seven shots down on the Trinidad and Tobago goal, including hitting the crossbar with a free kick shortly before halftime.
With a capacity crowd cheering them on, Japan finally found their feet in the closing stages as substitute Takumi Minamino and defender Shoji Gen both went close but the Caribbean side held on.
Following three successive 1-0 losses, Trinidad and Tobago coach Dennis Lawrence will be pleased with a tough away performance and will perhaps feel like his side could have stolen a win, having forced Japan goalkeeper Daniel Schmidt into a few smart saves.
However, it was a sluggish performance from the Samurai Blue who have yet more games to play as an invited team in the Copa America beginning later this month.
There was a certain end-of-season feel to the contest and with Moriyasu taking almost an entirely different squad to Brazil, it was little surprise that the Japanese performed like they had little to play for.
Nakajima, captain Gaku Shibasaki and defender Takehiro Tomiyasu were the only players to feature on Wednesday who are in Japan’s squad for the Copa America.
Moriyasu’s squad for the Copa contains only six players to have previously played for Japan with his selection of such a young and raw squad an indication the coach has one eye on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics next year.
In Brazil, Japan have been drawn in Group C alongside Uruguay, Ecuador and Chile.
Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by Angus MacSwan