|Argentina’s Tevez, left, scored in a 5-0 thrashing of Canada [Reuters]|
The prospect of a high-level coaching casualty on the eve of the World Cup reared its head as Takeshi Okada offered to resign after Japan’s defeat to South Korea.
Japan coach Okada put his own job on the line on Monday but was persuaded to carry on after a morale-sapping 2-0 home defeat by South Korea in a World Cup send-off for both sides.
It was one of a host of warm-up friendlies that also saw Argentina depart for South Africa with a 5-0 victory over Canada following a troublesome qualifying campaign.
Australia secured a late win over New Zealand, while World Cup hosts South Africa drew to stretch their unbeaten run to nine games.
Portugal could only draw 0-0 with 117th-ranked Cape Verde.
Japan’s loss was a bitter blow for Okada, who had confidently set a semi-final appearance as the target for his side at the finals.
“To lose twice to Korea in one year – I am deeply sorry”
Takeshi Okada, Japan football coach
South Korea captain Park Ji-sung inspired the visitors and damaged Japan’s preparations for South Africa, with their opening Group E game against Cameroon just three weeks away.
“I asked the [football association] president if I should continue as coach,” Okada told reporters.
“He said ‘Yes’ – so I’ll carry on. It’s a question of taking responsibility.
“It’s not that I have lost confidence. I just asked if he wanted me to stay and warned him he will take a lot of criticism if he sticks with me.
“To lose twice to Korea in one year – I am deeply sorry.”
Park stunned Japan in the sixth minute with a superb solo goal, bursting past three players before smashing a right-foot shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the penalty box.
Substitute Park Chu-young added an injury-time penalty to complete a deserved victory for the 2002 World Cup semi-finalists in front of a crowd of 57,000 in Saitama.
Two-time World Cup winners Argentina eased to a 5-0 victory over Canada in Buenos Aires for a morale-boosting win ahead of flying to South Africa on Friday.
|Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo had no answer to Cape Verde’s defence [Reuters]|
“The most positive thing is that we have made people happy,” said the 50-year-old, who became a national hero when he inspired Argentina to win the 1986 World Cup trophy.
“And also that we were eager to show what we were capable of and a lot more besides that.”
Liverpool winger Maxi Rodriguez grabbed a double, scoring with a 16th minute free kick and then grabbing his second in the 32nd minute after being teed up by Carlos Tevez.
Benfica midfielder Angel Di Maria added a third with a stunning shot with the outside of his left foot in the 37th minute before Tevez deservedly got on the score sheet, after superb work by Gonzalo Higuain, who on three occasions was denied when one-on-one with the goalkeeper.
Maradona’s son-in-law Sergio Aguero rounded off the scoring with a fine individual effort 18 minutes from full time.
South Africa stretched their unbeaten run to nine games since the return of coach Carlos Alberto Parreira with a 1-1 draw against Bulgaria.
South Africa took a 20th-minute lead in front of about 30,000 fans at the Orlando Stadium when defender Siyabonga Sangweni headed home a corner unmarked at the back post.
Bulgaria levelled the score through Italian-based striker Valeri Bojinov 11 minutes later.
All Whites go close
Brett Holman struck four minutes into injury-time to spare Australian blushes and give the Socceroos a 2-1 victory over trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand in a World Cup warm-up on Monday.
Holman grabbed the winner after receiving a deft chip in the box from fellow midfielder Carl Valeri to lift more than 55,000 spectators at the Melbourne Cricket Ground into a frenzy.
The last-gasp goal was a cruel ending for the All Whites who were the far more composed side and had sparked hopes of a stunning upset after a 16th-minute goal from Chris Killen.
Dario Vidosic capitalised on a cruel deflection off Killen to steer the ball into the corner of the net for an equaliser in the 57th minute to lift the home side.