Japan’s national team drew 1-1 with Syria on Wednesday night in the Kirin Challenge Cup 2017 at Tokyo Stadium.
The international friendly was a key test for both sides ahead of 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying next week, with Japan scheduled to face Iraq in Tehran and Syria set for a showdown with China.
With Kashima Antlers star Gen Shoji and Cerezo Osaka counterpart Hotaru Yamaguchi in the starting lineup, the Samurai Blue struggled to find their rhythm in the first half.
They were dealt a severe blow early on when attacking midfielder Shinji Kagawa was forced out of the match with a dislocated left shoulder, relieved after just 10 minutes by Gamba Osaka’s Shu Kurata.
Things got worse just three minutes into the second half, when an unmarked Mardik Mardikian scored a deserved opening goal.
Japan equalised in the 58th minute courtesy of Gamba midfielder Yasuyuki Konno, who struck home Yuto Nagatomo’s cross from the left side.
Takashi Inui’s introduction following that goal gave the hosts some momentum, but despite his efforts they were unable to find the game-winner in front of over 43,000 fans.
Japan’s next match will take place against Iraq on Tuesday, June 13 at 21:25 JST (GMT+9).