Following their unimpressive showing at the 1999 Copa America, Japan's full national team played only one more match in 1999 -- a Kirin Challenge match against Iran, which was billed as a rematch of the game which Japan won in order to advance to the 1998 World Cup. The match was not particularly impressive in terms of either player performances or strategy, and it ended in a 1-1 draw. However, it marked the clear beginning of a transition from the old guard, which had formed the core of the team in 1998 and failed to gel under Troussier, to a younger squad made up of players who took part in the Nigeria U-20 tournament and the Sydney Olympics. Actually, only four relative youngsters -- Ryuzoi Morioka, Teruyoshi Ito, Takashi Fukunishi and Yuji Nakazawa -- were added to the starting lineup for the Iran match, and none of them would stay in the starting lineup all the way to the 2002 World Cup (though Morioka started Japan's first match against Belgium).
Over the remainder of 1999, the team that held the spotlight in Japan's footballing world was the U-23 team, training to take part in the Sydney Olympics in 2000. The match with Iran would be the last chance for many veterans to contributre to the national team under Troussier, and by the following year, he was building a new squad around the younger generation.
Playing before a vocal home crowd of 36,000, Japan got a break early on, when a defender made a very poor clearance of a corner kick in the 10 minute. The ball fell right at the feet of Daisuke Oku at the edge of the penalty box, with no defender in the way, and he drilled it into the back of the net to put Japan up 1-0.
However, Troussier made wholesale changes at half time, switching from a 4-4-2 formation in the first half (one of the few times that Japan would play this formation under Troussier) to a 3-5-2. Unfortunately, early in the second half Iran's ace, Ali Daei, equalized on a well-taken free kick from just outside the area,. and the match ended in a 1-1 draw. At this point, Japan had a disappointing 1-4-3 record under Troussier, and the grumbling from the back rooms of the JFA began to grow audible, and newspapers began discussing how much longer Troussier would be allowed to remain at the helm of Japan's unsteady national team.