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 S. Okazaki 75'
for M. Ogasawara 75'
for Y. Ōkubo 84'
|Barcelona announce record revenues for 2015-16|
|Moyes enjoys Sunderland win as Palace beat Colchester|
|Stoke complete Allen signing|
|Roma coach Spalletti warns suitors off Manolas|
|Cresswell out for up to four months with knee injury|
|Burnley fan banned by club for racist abuse|
|Dad won´t let me play at the Olympics - Larsson Sr pulls rank|
|Kostic joins Hamburg on five-year deal|
|Tevez: I´d turn down Chelsea and Napoli to stay at Boca|
|Mayoral inspired by Benzema for Wolfsburg stint|
|Allardyce straight into competitive action with England|
|Liverpool, Sevilla fined for Europa League final incidents|
|Barcelona seal Guillemenot signing as part of new Servette deal|
|Niersbach handed one-year ban over World Cup corruption|
|Chelsea and Everton ´still interested´ as Koulibaly eyes Napoli exit|
|´Still working hard´ - Balotelli trains with Liverpool kids|
|Winter breaks, long-ball football and the World Cup: Allardyce in his own words|
|Inter warn Napoli Icardi is not for sale|
|Zanetti wants Simeone back at Inter|
|Stoke snap up Sobhi|
|PSG tougher under Emery - Lucas Moura|
|Totti not ready for retirement - Pallotta|
|Confident Allardyce reveals plan for England success|
|Pochettino to discard three Tottenham players|
|Allardyce: Rooney must wait for captaincy decision|
|Aubameyang: I will only leave Dortmund for Real Madrid|
|Allegri silences questions on Pogba|
|Bruce stands by decision to quit Hull City|
|Pochettino: Not the right time for Argentina job|
|Inter yet to approach De Boer with Mancini exit rumoured|
|Ancelotti trusts me more than Guardiola - Ribery|
|Wijnaldum rejected Everton for Klopp|
|Pre-season Manchester derby cancelled|
|Coutinho excited by ´fast´ Liverpool recruits|
|Cristiano Ronaldo and Conor McGregor step into the ring together|
|Mancini coy on reports linking Icardi to Napoli|
|Nolito reveals why he chose Man City over Barcelona|
|Inter 1 Paris Saint-Germain 3: Icardi absence in defeat fuels Napoli talk|
|MLS Review: Wright-Phillips double inspires Red Bulls to New York derby rout|
|James seeks more game time at Madrid|
|Rooney: I want to be a manager|
|Mignolet welcomes Karius challenge in Liverpool number one battle|
|Batshuayi buoyed by winning vibes at Chelsea|
|Moyes and Sunderland players diverted after plane fault|
|´Loved´ Varane targets long Madrid stay|
|Kostic set for Hamburg medical|
|Leicester crying over Kante sale - Ranieri|
|Schurrle the perfect Mkhitaryan replacement - Tuchel|
|West Ham face anxious wait on Cresswell injury|
|Mourinho will accept criticism from United legends|
|Bertolacci desperate for fresh start after underwhelming first season at Milan|
|Hoops hand Toure one-year deal|
|Origi ready to fight for Liverpool spot|
|Emery wants PSG stay for ´fantastic´ Matuidi|
|No Barcelona offer for Vietto - Cerezo|
|Burnley apologise for racist abuse from supporter|
|Guardiola will not rush Kompany comeback|
|Of course I´ll shake Guardiola´s hand, snaps riled Mourinho|
|Watzke: No more signings for Dortmund|
|Roma expect Manolas to snub Premier League move|
|Adriano set to leave Barcelona for Besiktas|
|Manchester United in worst possible situation - Mourinho|
|Sporting would have to sell stadium to afford Van Persie - Jesus|
|Jonas´ agent confirms Barcelona approach|
|No problem with Mourinho, insists Guardiola ahead of derby in China|
|Toronto´s hat-trick hero Giovinco: I´m back|
|Drogba revels in ´special night´, dedicates hat-trick to family|
|MLS Review: Hat-tricks for Drogba and Giovinco as stars shine|
|Whelan backs Liverpool for top-four finish|
|Pellegrini still waiting for right offer|
|Ronaldo deserves to win Ballon d´Or - Vazquez|
|Phelan wants Hull job|
|Alaba saddened by Gotze exit|
|Morgan: Vardy right to re-sign|
|Maradona ´hurting´ as Higuain closes on Juventus move|