Yasuyuki Konno and Yasuhito Endo picked up caps as Japan began 2013 with a 3-0 win over Latvia.
Konno started the match in the heart of Alberto Zaccheroni’s defence but found himself with very little to do as the visitors from the north east of Europe rarely found themselves near Japan’s box. On the few occasions he was called into action during his 66 minutes on the pitch he looked calm and assured, which will be a good sign for Gamba fans.
Endo had to watch the first half from the bench but was introduced at half time with his country already a goal to the good thanks to a strike from Shinji Okazaki. The Stuttgart man slid onto a cross from Atsuto Uchida and managed to poke the ball in off the post. Endo didn’t have a lot to do either as he was deployed in a deep midfield role and often found himself watching from afar as his team mates bombarded the Latvia goal.
A quickfire double just before Konno’s departure ensured that the hosts would record a comfortable victory as Keisuke Honda first lifted the ball over Andrejs Vanins before Okazaki rounded the Sion goalkeeper to complete his brace. Latvia had poor finishing from Shinji Kagawa to thank for the scoreline not being greater.
Japan are next in action on March 22 when they travel to Qatar for a friendly against Canada ahead of a World Cup qualifier in Jordan four days later. Any Gamba players selected for that trip will miss the home match against JEF United.