Ghana spoils Nishino’s debut, beats Japan in friendly

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YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) Akira Nishino made his debut as Japan coach on Wednesday in a 2-0 loss to Ghana.

In steady rain at Nissan Stadium, Thomas Partey gave Ghana a 1-0 lead in the ninth minute with free kick from the top of the area. Emmanuel Boateng doubled the advantage from the penalty spot in the 51st.

Nishino, who will name his World Cup squad on Thursday, brought in substitutes Shinji Kagawa and Shinji Ozaki in the second half when Japan created more chances but was unable to beat Ghana goalkeeper Richard Ofori.

“We had chances but couldn’t capitalize so it’s a disappointing result,” Nishino said. “I’m still considering many factors before tomorrow’s announcement.”

After only two weeks working with his players, Nishino opted for experience with defenders Tomoaki Makino, Makoto Hasebe and Maya Yoshida in front of goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima.

Also in the starting 11 was veteran Keisuke Honda, who played at right forward alongside Takashi Usami and Yuya Osako. Honda nearly scored midway through the first half but his angled shot from close range was denied by Ofori.

Japan fired Vahid Halilhodzic last month, only two months before the World Cup opens, and replaced him with Nishino.

In two World Cup warm-up matches, Japan will face Switzerland on June 8 in Lugano, Switzerland, and Paraguay on June 12 in Innsbruck, Austria.

Japan will play in Group H at the World Cup with Colombia, Poland and Senegal in its sixth straight World Cup. It has only twice reached the knockout round, losing both times in the last 16.