CARDIFF: Japan, held goalless in a highly surprising result by South Africa, finished runners-up in Group F of the women’s Olympic football tournament. Thi means they will stay in Cardiff for Friday’s quarter-final against the Group E runners-up Brazil.

The result and their lacklustre performance would have suggested to a suspicious mind that this was exactly what they wished to achieve in the Millennium Stadium.

The world champions controlled possession in the opening stages but their usual creative spark was surprisingly lacking and they only created two chances of note.

The first came in the 12th minute when Karina Maruyama was denied by keeper on Thokozile Mndaweni then Ando almost caught Mndaweni out with a cross-cum-shot which the goalkeeper palmed away.

At the other end of the field, Porta Modise created Banyana Banyana’s best chance, shooting from way outside the penalty box just inches over the crossbar.

The second half was more of the same. The ball barely left the midfield zone, with Japan’s only apparent concern being not to concede any goals, which never really looked like happening.

Asuna Tanaka flashed two headers off-target from corner kicks, but that was the sum total of the goalmouth action.

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