Forward Kensuke Nagai struck twice as a new-look Japan beat El Salvador 2-0 at home in their final Copa America tune-up yesterday. The FC Tokyo striker smashed home the opener after 19 minutes in Miyagi before added his second just before halftime with a clinical finish to give the Blue Samurai a winning send-off.
Tournament guests Japan face Chile, Uruguay and Ecuador in Group C at the Copa America, which kicks off on June 14. Teenage sensation Takefusa Kubo, who won his first senior Japan call-up last week, made his debut for Hajime Moriyasu's side as a 67th-minute substitute after being overlooked for the goalless midweek draw with Trinidad and Tobago.
Kubo, who also plays for FC Tokyo, was invited to Barcelona's youth academy as a scrawny nine-year-old where he earned the nickname the "Japanese Messi." Moriyasu has named no fewer than 17 uncapped players to his Copa America squad as Japan look to build for next year's Tokyo Olympics.