OITA, Japan (AFP) - Japan were held to a goalless draw by Venezuela in the first home game of the season for the Blue Samurai on Tuesday as they prepare for the World Cup in South Africa.
Japan were the first team to qualify for international football's biggest prize while Venezuela failed to reach the finals after finishing eighth in the South American group.
Venezuela had the first chance of the match when 17-year-old debutant forward Fernando Aristiguieta missed a header from close range in the ninth minute following midfielder Giacomo Di Giorgi's long-off effort.
But it appeared to be the best chance for either side in a game bereft of clear scoring opportunities.
Mitsuo Ogasawara, playing for Japan for the first time since the 2006 World Cup, fired a sizzling shot from outside the area, forcing goalkeeper Leonardo Morales to save in the 16th minute.
Ogasawara and Brazilian-born Marcus Tulio Tanaka missed a couple more shots, while Aristiguieta failed to catch up with Caracas defender Hose Manuel Rey's free kick to end a goalless first half.
Venezuela piled on the pressure in the second half but managed just one shot on goal through defender Giovanny Romero.
Sota Hirayama, who scored a hat-trick in an Asian Cup qualifier against Yemen last month, was sent on with Sanfrecce Hiroshima striker Hisato Sato in a fruitless attempt to lend the Japanese some rhythm.
Overall, Japan hit a total of 12 shots on goal and Venezuela four.
"I was disappointed that we couldn't win because Venezuela put wonderful pressure on us. But as an early game of the season, it was a nice game," said Japan coach Takeshi Okada.
"Mitsuo struggled in the first half as the combination with the others was not so good but he did very well in the second half.
"We have three more games this month (in the East Asian championship). We are going to level up our team through the championship, looking forward to the World Cup," Okada added.
Japan will play China, South Korea and Hong Kong in the championship starting in Tokyo on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Venezuela coach Cesar Farias said: "It was a very difficult game but we can go back home being satisfied after learning football played at the top level of the world."
Farias said his team had learned a lot from a draw with Brazil at the end of the South American qualifying campaign.
"I believe we are very close to the next World Cup," he added. "It was the first step towards the following four years. It gave us a lot of experience. I'm very glad that we can go back home with such an experience."
|Coach: T. Okada|
for Y. Tokunaga 59'
for K. Nakamura 59'
for M. Ogasawara 75'
for S. Okazaki 75'
for Y. Ōkubo 84'
|UEFA Europa League: Tottenham 4 Anzhi Makhachkala 1|
|Bayern to face MLS All-Stars|
|Gerrard out for at least four weeks|
|UEFA Europa League: Maribor 2 Wigan Athletic 1|
|UEFA Europa League: St Gallen 1 Swansea City 0|
|Klinsmann extends USA deal|
|La Liga Preview: Osasuna v Real Madrid|
|FA to consult Hull fans over name change|
|Premier League Preview: Newcastle United v Southampton|
|West Brom wait on Anichebe illness update|
|Serie A Preview: Juventus v Sassuolo|
|Pulis plays down reports of Rhodes raid|
|Bundesliga Preview: Hoffenheim v Borussia Dortmund|
|Meulensteen pleased with Fulham progress|
|Premier League Preview: Everton v Fulham|
|Bassong signs new Norwich deal|
|Dutt confident of Werder response|
|La Liga Preview: Barcelona v Villarreal|
|Pochettino proud of Southampton character|
|Zanetti urges Inter to make Lavezzi move|
|Anigo refuses to rule out Marseille extension|
|Hughes wants Stoke momentum|
|Premier League Preview: Chelsea v Crystal Palace|
|Bundesliga is the best, says Ribery|
|Olsen pens new Denmark deal|
|Premier League Preview: West Ham v Sunderland|
|Howedes and Draxler out until new year|
|Sakho targeting Europe return with Liverpool|
|Bundesliga Preview: Bayern Munich v Hamburg|
|Vorm to undergo knee surgery|
|Mkhitaryan lauds Dortmund spirit|
|Young unconcerned by ´diver´ tag|
|Higuain gutted after ´injustice´|
|Berlusconi blasts ´deliquents´ after violence|
|Premier League Preview: Manchester City v Arsenal|
|Poyet calls for Sunderland patience|
|Neymar happy after hat-trick|
|Martinez hails ´special´ Deulofeu|
|Mourinho wants ´King Didier´ reunion|
|Villas-Boas aims for perfect Europa League record|
|De Boer: Milan unworthy of last-16 spot|
|Colombia Primera A: Deportivo Cali 0 Atletico Nacional 0|
|FIFA Club World Cup Preview: Monterrey v Raja Casablanca|
|Fonseca berates Porto defence|
|Copa Sudamericana: Lanus 2 Ponte Preta 0 (3-1 agg)|
|Klopp blasts wasteful Dortmund despite win|
|Yakin rues Ivanov red card, Basel´s Euro exit|
|Atletico ´hungry´ for success, says Garcia|
|Allegri relieved as Milan progress|
|Martino lauds ´amazing´ Neymar|
|De Laurentiis: Napoli will take Europa League seriously|
|Lennon slams ´weak´ Celtic|
|Wenger feels for eliminated Napoli|
|Matip: Win was for coach Keller|
|Marseille should not be ashamed, says Anigo|
|Ligue 1 Preview: Anigo eyes Marseille revival, Monaco target PSG|
|Chelsea always in control, says Mourinho|
|UEFA Champions League: Marseille 1 Borussia Dortmund 2|
|UEFA Champions League: Barcelona 6 Celtic 1|
|UEFA Champions League: Milan 0 Ajax 0|
|UEFA Champions League: Austria Vienna 4 Zenit St Petersburg 1|
|FIFA Club World Cup: Raja Casablanca 2 Auckland City 1|
|UEFA Champions League: Napoli 2 Arsenal 0|
|UEFA Champions League: Atletico Madrid 2 Porto 0|
|Schwarzer makes Champions League history|
|Kisenkov handed six-match spitting suspension|
|Bruce happy with Sagbo impact|
|Valencia eager to attract investment|
|Roux not focused on World Cup selection|
|Corinthians name Menezes as new coach|
|Too early for top-four talk, insists Cabaye|
|Tottenham to fast-track Vertonghen recovery|
|Beaten Conte critical of conditions|
|Ibrahimovic hails PSG youngsters|
|Honda to join Milan in January|
|Giaccherini happy at Sunderland, says agent|
|UEFA Champions League: Galatasaray 1 Juventus 0|
|Baines eyes festive return|
|Boateng extends Bayern deal|
|Pieters tips De Jong for Stoke|
|Arrasate talks up Champions League impact|
|Spalletti expects Vienna test|
|Juventus ´not interested´ in Kolarov|
|Fonseca calls for Porto balance|
|Dalglish backs Suarez to shine on world stage|
|Brunt: West Brom are no Mickey Mouse club|
|Klopp unsure over Marseille sacking effect|
|Howson in ´best form´|
|Ronaldo grounded despite record haul|
|Liverpool´s Kelly fighting fit|
|Guardiola calm over Champions League defeat|
|Bony boost for Swansea|
|A-League Preview: Mariners eye perfect 10 against Reds|
|Lucescu laments Donetsk performance|
|Michel: Olympiacos deserved knockout-stage spot|
|Pellegrini displays Munich confusion|
|Delaney credits Copenhagen second-half display|
|Sociedad president learns lessons from exit|
|Jesus believes Benfica deserved to progress|
|Vrba delighted with ´amazing´ Moscow win|
|Hyypia hails Leverkusen belief|
|Second-half show disappoints Blanc|
|UEFA Europa League Preview: Maribor v Wigan Athletic|
|Moyes eyes UEFA Champions League glory|
|Lahm takes positive from City loss|