Lackluster Japan needs win after China stalemate

July 24 (Reuters) – Hosts Japan were held 0-0 by China in the East Asian Championship at Toyota on Sunday to leave Hajime Moriyasu’s side needing to beat defending champions Korea du Sud in their last game on Wednesday to win the regional title. .

Moriyasu’s side sit second in the four-nation competition, two points behind the Koreans after the five-time tournament winners handed Hong Kong a 3-0 loss earlier in the day.

The Japanese, who have only won the title once before, made 11 changes to the side that beat Hong Kong 6-0 in the first round and lacked a flurry against an inexperienced Chinese side.

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Moriyasu selected a squad made up entirely of J-League players for the competition and no one on display on Sunday pushed their case for inclusion in Japan’s 26-man squad for the World Cup final in november.

A poor finish and a solid display from Chinese goalkeeper Han Jiaqi prevented the Samurai Blue from making their way into a match where the hosts dominated unconvincingly.

The Koreans, who have won the last three East Asian tournaments, had previously beaten Jorn Andersen’s Hong Kong to build on their first-round win over the Chinese on Wednesday.

Kang Seong-jin put Paulo Bento’s side ahead with a deflected shot from distance after 17 minutes, but the Koreans had to wait until the 73rd minute to double their advantage.

Kim Jin-kyu’s ball split the Hong Kong defense to free Hong Chul and he scored with a shot at goalkeeper Chan Ka-ho.

Kang put the result beyond doubt four minutes from time with a diving header as Hong turned provider with a curling cross from the left that bounced in front of goal before Kang nodded home .

Japan and South Korea meet in the final round of matches at Toyota on Wednesday after China took on Hong Kong.

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Reporting by Michael Church in Hong Kong, editing by Christian Radnedge

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