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SAITAMA, Japan, Sept 11 (Reuters) - Japan playmaker Keisuke Honda has compared his recent goal drought to a clogged ketchup bottle after Japan squeaked past Iraq 1-0 in a World Cup qualifier.
The bleached-blond midfielder promised to sharpen his finishing after twice going close with headers in Tuesday's game in Saitama, the second tipped onto the post.
"Goals are like ketchup," a philosophical Honda told reporters. "Sometimes it doesn't come out of the bottle and sometimes it squirts out all over the place.
"I simply have to keep trying, however many I miss. I was close today but in big games those misses can be very costly."
Ryoichi Maeda's 25th-minute goal strengthened Japan's grip at the top of Group B in the final round of Asian qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.
Missing Manchester United's Shinji Kagawa, who pulled out just before kickoff with a back strain, Asian champions Japan survived an early onslaught before Maeda struck.
Honda, who scored four goals in Japan's first two final-round qualifiers including a hat-trick in the 6-0 thrashing of Jordan, did everything but score in Kagawa's absence.
"The most important thing was that we won," said the CSKA Moscow midfielder. "My inability to put the ball in the net was pretty obvious.
"You're going to feel down when the goals dry up but you have to take a look at yourself and try to put it right. That's what I will do when I get back to Russia.
"I'm confident I'll score in (Japan's) next game." (Editing by Mark Meadows)