Keisuke Honda praised Japan’s spirit after his goal proved enough for his side to beat Cameroon in Group E.
The CSKA Moscow forward got the only goal of the game in a drab encounter at the Free State Stadium.
The result secured a much-needed victory for coach Takeshi Okada, who had seen his side lose four and draw one of their warm-up matches.
“It is not just about me. Our team has not had good results but we got it right when it mattered,” said Honda.
The goal came as the result of poor defending when Cameroon failed to cut out a cross from Daisuke Matsui, with the unmarked Honda pouncing at the far post.
“I had to stay calm when the ball came to me as we have missed chances in recent games,” he added.
Japan’s cause was helped by a poor display by the African side.
Coach Takeshi Okada said the players display of unity before the kick-off indicated their togetherness.
He said: “We knew Cameroon would be physically strong and so it proved. But my players had a strong motivation to do well.
“They asked me before the match if they could stand with shoulders linked at the national anthem. I thought it was a good idea.”