Kazu marks first futsal goal in win over Ukraine

 Former Japan striker Miura Kazuyoshi scored his first goal for Futsal Japan as they beat Ukraine 3-1 in a friendly international on Saturday at Asahikawa Taisetsu Arena in Hokkaido ahead of next month’s FIFA Futsal World Cup in Thailand.
 Miguel Rodrigo’s side opened the scoring two minutes into the game when Hoshi Shota slotted home a Kogure Kenichiro pass.
 Ukraine, who reached the quarterfinals in the 2008 World Cup, replied in the eighth minute through Sergii Zhurba on a counterattack.
 But the hosts went ahead again two minutes later when Kitahara Wataru found the target from close range.
 Miura, who made his futsal debut on Wednesday in a 3-3 draw with Brazil in Tokyo, brought the sell-out 2,687 crowd to their feet with a goal in the 14th minute.
The 45-year-old Yokohama FC player, who was capped 89 times and scored 55 goals for Japan’s senior football team, reacted sharply on the left to a rebound from a shot by Henmi Rafael Katsutoshi and scored with a low shot past Ukraine goalkeeper Ievgen Ivanyak.
 Ukraine, also preparing for the World Cup, rallied hard and Mykhaylo Romanov hit the bar soon after the break. The visitors kept possession well as they put pressure on the Japanese side, but the hosts also threatened with attempts from Kogure and Hoshi.
 Late in the second half, Ukraine launched a power play as they tried to rally, but Japan held firm.
 “I’m delighted and felt moved as my teammates celebrated with me after scoring,” said Miura, who was mobbed by his teammates after his goal. “The goal came thanks to the support of my teammates and the cheers of the fans. By scoring today, I feel I have become a part of the team.”
 Japan coach Rodrigo said, “It was a game of two halves today. We played with energy and took the initiative offensively and defensively in the first half, but we grew tired in the second half and had to defend more, as we had against Brazil.
 “It is hard to play against a team that made it to the quarterfinals in the World Cup by keeping up the pace we had in the first half for the full 40 minutes. But we had patience as we defended and didn’t give away any more goals. That is the positive aspect of today’s game and I am satisfied with that.”
 The Spaniard went on: “Having played these two friendlies, I have been able to check the readiness of our team’s motivation and dynamism and have found positives. We couldn’t have had a better preparation for the World Cup.”
 Ukraine coach Gennadii Lisenchuk commented, “We couldn’t play well in the first half. That was probably because we had to travel for a long time and couldn’t adjust well to the time difference and the climate here. We played better in the second half, but the Japanese goalkeeper did a good job and denied all our decisive shots.
 “Japan prepared well physically and all of their players understand team tactics well. I actually told our players at halftime that they should play like Kazu did, getting ready for a rebound. Given those positives, I am sure Japan can make a success in Thailand.”
 Japan will play Brazil on November 1, Portugal on November 4 and Libya on November 7 in the group stage of the World Cup, slated for November 1-18.
 Asked about the quadrennial tournament, Miura said, “The atmosphere of our team is very good. Now we have to work on recovering from getting tired. Our mentality will be important from now on.”