Tokyo: An empty stadium is not how Japanese athletes imagined competing for the first time in Tokyo at their home Olympics.
At least the men’s soccer team won on Thursday — a day before the opening ceremony of the pandemic-impacted games. Takefusa Kubo scored the only goal with a curling strike off the post in the 71st minute that clinched a 1-0 victory over South Africa at the Tokyo Stadium.
Kubo is a 20-year-old forward signed up to Real Madrid who has yet to play for the Spanish giants while gaining first-team experience elsewhere in La Liga. In the other Group A game, Mexico beat France 4-1.
In Kashim, Chris Wood’s goal gave New Zealand a 1-0 victory over South Korea. Starting with six players who rushed from the European Championship to the Olympics, Spain was held to a 0-0 draw by Egypt in Sapparo.
Alexis Vega scored the first of four second-half goals for Mexico in a 4-1 victory over France. Mexico, which won gold at the 2012 Olympics, had the better chances in the first half but the game was scoreless at the break.
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