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Japan opens Olympic men’s soccer with 1-0 win over SAfrica

July 22, 2021 GMT
Japan's Ritsu Doan, left, and teammate Reo Hatate, second from left, celebrates a goal from Takefusa Kubo (7) during a men's soccer match against South Africa at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Thursday, July 22, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)
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Japan's Ritsu Doan, left, and teammate Reo Hatate, second from left, celebrates a goal from Takefusa Kubo (7) during a men's soccer match against South Africa at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Thursday, July 22, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)
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Japan's Ritsu Doan, left, and teammate Reo Hatate, second from left, celebrates a goal from Takefusa Kubo (7) during a men's soccer match against South Africa at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Thursday, July 22, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)

TOKYO (AP) — An empty stadium is not how Japanese athletes imagined competing for the first time in Tokyo at their home Olympics.

At least the men’s soccer team won on Thursday — a day before the opening ceremony of the pandemic-impacted games.

Takefusa Kubo scored the only goal with a curling strike off the post in the 71st minute that clinched a 1-0 victory over South Africa at the Tokyo Stadium.

Kubo is a 20-year-old forward signed up to Real Madrid who has yet to play for the Spanish giants while gaining first-team experience elsewhere in La Liga.

In the other Group A game, Mexico beat France 4-1.

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