JOHANNESBURG, June 24 – Japan qualified for the last 16 of the World Cup as Group E runners-up after beating Denmark 3-1 on Thursday while Holland won the group with a 2-1 victory over Cameroon.The Dutch will play Slovakia, who put out champions Italy, in Durban on Monday and Japan will face Paraguay in Pretoria on Tuesday.
Japan became Asia’s second representative in the second round along with South Korea after reaching the last 16 for just the second time in their history.
Their only previous qualification for the knockout stage was on home soil when they co-hosted the tournament with South Korea in 2002.
Japan’s victory in Rustenburg was built on two superb free-kicks. Keisuke Honda’s left-footed effort sailed into the net from 30 yards after 17 minutes and Yasuhito Endo repeated the trick with half an hour gone.
Veteran striker Jon Dahl Tomasson pulled a goal back for Denmark when he knocked in the rebound after his own penalty was saved by Japan ‘keeper Eiji Kawashima.
Japan’s last 16 berth was made absolutely certain when Shinji Okazaki scored his country’s third goal in the final minutes.
In Cape Town, the Netherlands were assured of qualification before they kicked-off but ensured they finished top of the group with maximum points when they saw off a spirited performance from the already-eliminated Cameroon.
Robin Van Persie threaded the ball through Cameroon ‘keeper Hamidou Souleymano’s legs after 36 minutes, but Cameroon equalised when Samuel Eto’o scored a 65th minute penalty.
Substitute Klaas-Jan Huntelaar gave Holland the three points when he knocked in the ball after it had rebounded off a post from Arjen Robben’s curled shot.