An early defensive blunder combined with a late letdown saw Japan down the Canadian men’s soccer team 2-1 in an international friendly Friday in Doha, Qatar.
Japanese striker Mike Havenaar scored the winner, a close-range attempt off the post and past Canadian ‘keeper Milan Borjan, following a 74th-minute cross from Japan’s Gotoku Sakai.
The loss kept Canada winless in three tries this year after falling 4-0 to Denmark and drawing the U.S. in a pair of January friendlies.
Shinji Okazaki lobbed a perfectly-weighted shot over Borjan to open the scoring. Canada pulled level two minutes before the hour mark when Marcus Haber headed home his first senior team goal.
“We are frustrated with the way we conceded the two goals,” Canada’s technical director, Tony Fonseca, said. “Working to stop conceding goals from errors is something we have been focusing on so the team is disappointed in that sense.”
Canada had one last chance to tie it when Atiba Hutchinson struck a low screamer that forced Japanese ‘keeper Eiji Kawashima to make a save.
“There were some young players that showed they might be part of a future generation for Canada. We are encouraged by that,” Fonseca said. “We managed to cause them some problems as well, particularly in the second half.”
Japan has an opportunity to become the first team to qualify for the 2014 World Cup if it beats Jordan in Amman on Tuesday.
Canada will face Belarus in Doha Monday in another international friendly in preparation for this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup.