Japan beats Iraq 1-0 after Kagawa scare
News On Japan via chicagotribune.com -- Sep 12
Japan survived severe early pressure from Zico's Iraq to beat them 1-0 at home on Tuesday, taking a significant step towards qualifying for the 2014 football World Cup in Brazil.
Ryoichi Maeda steered in a point-blank header in the 25th minute for the Asian champions, who lost playmaker Shinji Kagawa to a back strain an hour before kick-off.
"It's three points, we'll take it," Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni told reporters. "It was an important result. We want to qualify for Brazil as quickly as possible."
Kagawa said his back problem was not serious, which will come as a relief to Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson.
"I felt a twinge during training," said United's $21-million pre-season signing. "It's not that serious and shouldn't keep me out for long.
"It's a pity because obviously I wanted to play but I didn't want to risk letting the team down."
Iraq, shock Asian Cup winners in 2007 and now under the stewardship of former Japan coach Zico, could have scored twice before Maeda struck.
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