Japan keep World Cup chances alive

DOHA - Japan boosted their World Cup qualifying hopes with a comfortable 3-0 triumph in Qatar on Wednesday. The victory gave second-placed Japan seven points from three games in Group A of the Asian zone, two behind Australia. Qatar are third with four points from four matches. The top two in the five-team section go through to the 2010 finals in South Africa. "I had expected a tough match but my players did a good job to win all three points," said Japan coach Takeshi Okada. "The race is still open and you never know who will qualify in the end." Qatar started promisingly but were kept at bay by goalkeeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi. Japan gradually took control and went ahead through Tatsuya Tanaka in the 19th minute after Talal Albloushi lost possession near the centre circle. Celtic midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura, playing with a heavily bandaged right knee, helped to keep the visitors on top and they made it 2-0 with a long-range shot from Keiji Tamada in the 47th. Nakamura then set up Marcus Tulio Tanaka to head the third after 68 minutes. Qatar coach Bruno Metsu criticised his side after their defeat. "When we play a team like Japan we can't afford to make mistakes," said the Frenchman. "We made quite a few today and paid the price."