Pretoria - An outstanding performance by Japan ensured their 1-nil win against African favourites Cameroon in a Group E match played at Mangaung Stadium last night.
Keisuke Honda, who celebrated his 24th birthday on Sunday, gave the Japanese a lead 6 minutes from half time. This, after poor defending from St,phane Mbia and Nicols Nkoulou, who both went for the same ball, leaving Honda unmarked. Inter Milan striker Samuel Eto'o led the Cameroon attack, along with Achille Webo.
Cameroon displayed uninspiring football during the first half and they paid a price for that.
The Japanese will be very happy with the win considering Japan went to the match with three points already after winning against Greece.
The indomitable Lions looked set to open the score in the 10th minute when they were awarded a set piece outside the 18 yard area but the referee later ruled a free-kick.
Earlier, Webo fancied his chance from range in the 7th but his short was cleared by Japanese goal keeper.
Webo looked lively down the right lane but his attempts at goal were easily dealt with by the Japan defence.
Japanese were left with 10 men for a while after Mbia suffered an injury following a collision with Endo in the 28th minute.
Cameroon missed a golden chance shortly at the start of the 2nd half when Eto'o escaped three Japanese defenders and runs with the ball down the right line before cutting back to Choupo-Moting, who kicked his shot narrowly wide. Eto'o seemed to have lost some of his electrifying pace as e struggled to go through the Japanese midfielders and defence.
The Asian team held on to their lead to ensure that the Cameroonians do not get back into the match. Japan has never won a World Cup match on foreign soil and their win against Cameroon ensured a change to this. Cameroon, who qualified for their 6th World Cup, has never lost an opening game in the FIFA World Cup.
Meanwhile, a commanding Netherlands beat Denmark 2-nil in an enthralling Group E match at Soccer City earlier on Monday.
The goals were scored by a Simon Busk Poulsen (own-goal) and Dirk Kuyt shortly before full time.
Denmark started the match a bit sloppy, as a weak back pass immediately troubled shot stopper Thomas Sorensen.
They tried to bounce back in the second half but were overpowered by a tough Dutch side. The win ensured Netherlands walked away with a cool three points from their opening match of the tournament. Netherlands will now lead the group with the next match between Japan and Cameroon in Bloemfontein set to determine whether the Dutch will stay at the top of their group.