Japan fought 2018 World Cup and 2019 Asian Cup qualifying opponents Singapore to a 0-0 draw at Saitama Stadium on Tuesday in their first outing.
Urawa Reds’ Tomoaki Makino, FC Tokyo’s Kosuke Ota, Kashima Antlers’ Gaku Shibasaki and Takashi Usami started for the Samurai Blue, while FC Tokyo’s Yoshinori Muto came on as a substitute with 12 minutes remaining in the match.
In addition to his tight defensive coverage, Makino contributed to Japan’s attack with a second-half header that narrowly went off-target.
Ota, the J.League’s current assist leader, created several chances with his accurate free kicks, while Shibasaki directed his team-mates with accurate vertical passes from midfield.
While J.League scoring co-leaders Usami and Muto both worked hard for a goal, Japan were still left without victory at the end and a less-than-stellar beginning to their qualification campaign.