Japan takes a hit in loss to Ukraine

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Japan's preparations for the World Cup took another hit yesterday.
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JAPAN’S preparations for the World Cup took another hit yesterday.

The Japanese team, which will face Colombia, Senegal and Poland in Group H at the tournament in Russia, lost to Ukraine 1-2 in a friendly.

Japan has won only two of its last seven games and rarely looked capable of beating a Ukrainian team which didn’t qualify for the World Cup.

In a near-empty stadium in Belgium, Yaroslav Rakitskiy put Ukraine ahead in the 21st minute with a powerful shot from outside the area.

Japan equalized in the 41st when Tomoaki Makino scored with a header from a free kick, but Oleksander Karavaev scored in the 69th for his first international goal.

Meanwhile, England appears set to play only one of its three remaining World Cup warm-up ties with the tournament ball because of the Football Association’s long-term commitment to Nike, the Times reported yesterday.

Several participating nations, including Germany and Spain, have played friendlies with the adidas Telstar ball that will be used in Russia.

However, Gareth Southgate’s England was using the Nike Ordem V ball in the friendly against Italy at Wembley yesterday as part of the FA’s contract with its American apparel and ball supplier which runs until 2030.

The Times said the Ordem V ball would also be used in England’s next fixture against Nigeria on June 2 but Nike had allowed the FA to test the adidas ball in the final friendly against Costa Rica on June 7.

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