Japan beat Syria in World Cup warm-up

TOKYO - A below-strength Japan beat Syria 3-1 on Thursday in a warm-up for next week's World Cup qualifier away to Qatar but again failed to impress.

Yuto Nagatomo, Keiji Tamada and Yoshito Okubo (pictured) scored the goals for a Japan side weakened by the absence of several key players through injuries or club commitments.

"There were a few loose threads we need to tie together," Japan coach Takeshi Okada said after another disjointed display from his team. "We need to put that right."

Left-back Nagatomo fired the home side in front after just two minutes in Kobe before Tamada volleyed Japan's second midway through the first half.

Tamada's strike partner Okubo scored Japan's third in the 62nd minute thanks to a wicked deflection, before Syria pulled a goal back with a late penalty from Mohamed Al Zino.

Japan play Qatar in Doha on Wednesday. The Japanese are second in Group A with four points from two games with Australia on a maximum six points.

Qatar also have four points but have played one match more than Okada's side, who have faced mounting criticism during their 2010 qualifying campaign for some unconvincing performances.

The top two in the two five-team Asian groups qualify automatically for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.