June 7, 2008 / 10:05 AM / 10 years ago

Mourinho has last laugh in Japan exhibition

YOKOHAMA, Japan (Reuters) - A World XI led by Jose Mourinho were held to a 2-2 draw by a Japanese side captained by Hidetoshi Nakata in an exhibition match on Saturday.

New coach of Inter Milan Jose Mourinho, leading the World Stars team, smiles before the Plus One Football Match against Japan Stars in Yokohama, south of Tokyo June 7, 2008. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

New Inter Milan coach Mourinho had the last laugh after his side fought back from two goals down in a game to raise awareness about global issues watched by 63,000 in Yokohama.

Nakata, who retired after the 2006 World Cup, smashed a right-foot shot against the post before striker Masashi Oguro headed the Japanese side in front moments later.

Masaaki Sawanobori added a lucky second when his shot dribbled through the hands of former France goalkeeper Bernard Lama.

Ajax midfielder Edgar Davids missed a penalty in the 41st minute but a quick-fire double from former Turkey striker Ilhan Mansiz salvaged a draw for Mourinho’s “World Stars”.

Ilhan, who helped Turkey finish third at the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan, scored from point-blank range after 71 minutes and volleyed the equaliser moments later.

“I didn’t want to win and I didn’t want to lose,” Mourinho told reporters.

“This result is the perfect result. Nobody likes to lose, even in friendlies. It was a great atmosphere.”

Nakata’s side brought on 64-year-old Kunishige Kamamoto, bronze medallist with Japan’s soccer team at the 1968 Olympics, in the 81st minute, triggering a huge roar from the crowd.

Davids and fellow Dutchman Clarence Seedorf, two of only a handful of current professionals on show, hardly broke sweat at Nissan Stadium, venue for the 2002 World Cup final.

By contrast, former Italy striker Salvatore Schillaci was so off the pace Japanese television commentators were more concerned with whether he had undergone a hair transplant since retiring.

Nakata has been linked with a possible return to the professional game with England’s Manchester City but the former Roma and Bolton midfielder brushed off such speculation.

“I think a return is impossible after the way I played today,” the 31-year-old said with a grin.

“I wouldn’t give myself high marks for that performance but it was a fun game.”

Additional reporting by Shinsuke Tanaka

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