New Zealand holds Japan to draw

Tough... New Zealand's Oly Whites salvaged a draw against Japan's olympic team in Tokyo. (Getty)

The New Zealand Olympic men's football team, boasting a clutch of A-league players, salvaged a 1-1 draw against Japan in Tokyo.

The home side, which is also heading to the London Games, dominated the match before conceding in the fourth minute of second half stoppage time.

The Oly Whites' equaliser came via late substitute Dakota Lucas in a move set up by Kosta Barbarouses, who tracked back to steal the ball off a defender.

It was a rare shot on target at the Japanese goal and it cancelled out Kenyu Sugimoto's 71st-minute strike.

Coach Neil Emblen had close to his full squad at his disposal for the first time.

Over-age players Shane Smeltz and Michael McGlinchey joined skipper Ryan Nelsen, who marshalled a dogged defensive effort by the New Zealanders.

Emblen admits his side was given a footballing lesson, not just in the way Japan played through the field, but also in the way it pressed.

He said the Oly Whites need to add some quality to the spirit they showed.

"Our ball retention and speed of pass must improve," Emblen said.

"But we have at least some time and a page of things to work on."

New Zealand plays another warm-up match against South Korea in Seoul on Saturday.