Kaoru Mitoma lifts Samurai Blue over Peru

Jiji Press
Kaoru Mitoma scores a goal in the first half of an international friendly match against Peru in Osaka on Tuesday.

OSAKA (AFP-Jiji) — Japan head coach Hajime Moriyasu said his players could take confidence from Tuesday’s 4-1 friendly win over Peru, with the Asian Cup less than seven months away.

Brighton winger Kaoru Mitoma scored a goal and set up another as Japan beat the South Americans in Osaka, five days after thrashing El Salvador 6-0.

The Samurai Blue are looking to win a record fifth Asian title in Qatar in January and Moriyasu urged his players to “keep improving in every department.”

“Peru has a similar world ranking to us and they’re a strong team in South America, so this was a good test for us,” he said.

“Beating a good South American team like this gives us confidence and next time we get together we will be looking to improve even further.”

Mitoma, who enjoyed a breakout debut season in the Premier League with seven goals for the Seagulls, struck in the first half to double Japan’s lead after Hiroki Ito opened the scoring.

Japan’s No. 7 collected the ball on the left before cutting inside a defender and unleashing a shot that deflected past Peru goalkeeper Pedro Gallese.

He then set up Junya Ito for his team’s third before substitute Daizen Maeda added another to cap a successful week for Japan.

“It was a bit of a miskick but that just shows it was worth taking the shot,” Mitoma said of his goal, his seventh in 17 appearances for Japan.

“It was a good win and once we’ve had a break now that the season is finished, we’ll keep going with the national team.”

Christofer Gonzales grabbed a late consolation for Peru, who arrived in Osaka fresh from a 1-0 win over South Korea in Seoul.

Japan has three more friendlies to play before qualifying for the 2026 World Cup begins in November.

“We need to be able to function no matter who is on the pitch so we have to reflect on the goal that we conceded,” said Moriyasu.

“But I think the score and the performance should give the players confidence in what we are doing.”