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Honda vows to up his scoring for Japan
Playmaker Keisuke Honda has pledged to get his shooting boots on after being chastised by manager Alberto Zaccheroni for failing to score in Japan's 1-0 win over Iraq in a World Cup qualifying match.
The Blue Samurai, playing without injured Manchester United rookie Shinji Kagawa, outdid Iraq 13-6 on shots with CSKA Moscow midfielder Honda attempting five of them, all in the second half.
But it was a close-range header in the 25th minute by J-League striker Ryoichi Maeda that left Japan at the top of Asia's Group B on 10 points with Jordan second on four points. Iraq, Australia and Oman were level on two.
Honda said Zaccheroni had told him after the match in Saitama that he was "not satisfied because you could have scored more goals".
"Not many people would tell me to get goals," the 26-year-old told Japanese media. "So the manager is very valuable for me. I am thankful because he never seems to be satisfied with me."
Honda, positioned behind a single striker, had been prolific in earlier qualifying rounds, hitting four goals in the first two matches in June, including a hat-trick against Jordan.
In the 69th minute, he headed over the bar from a cross by Inter Milan defender Yuto Nagatomo and with ten minutes to go Iraq goalkeeper Noor Sabri saved another Honda header onto the post.
Honda waxed philosophical about the missed opportunities after the game, citing retired Dutch goalmachine Ruud van Nistelrooy.
"I remember one famous striker once saying goals are like ketchup. Sometimes it doesn't come out (of the bottle) and sometimes it spurts out profusely," he said.
"It is simply a question of improving. Just keep on shooting no matter how many you may miss."
Kagawa was pulled out of Zaccheroni's squad a few hours before kick-off after complaining of discomfort in his lower back during training on Monday.
The 23-year-old said the injury wasn't serious but he was unsure when he would be back in action.
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