Tim Cahill has been in sparkling form for the New York Red Bulls. Image courtesy of foxsports.com.au/AAP
Australia’s World Cup hopes don’t exactly go on the line against Japan in Saitima on Tuesday night (AEST), but a positive result of some sort would certainly make the Socceroos job of automatic qualification a lot easier than it currently is. A congested table sees Australia in third spot, a point behind Jordan, albeit with a game in hand. Oman is equal with Holger Osieck’s team while Iraq lurks just one point in arrears, also with a game in hand on the rest of Group B.
The Socceroos finish the group stage with home matches against Jordan and Iraq, but as was shown in the 2-2 draw with Oman in Sydney in March, nothing can be taken for granted. There have already been rumours floating around that Osieck may not survive if there is a disastrous result against the Blue Samurai.
Japan went down 2-0 last start against Bulgaria in a friendly, but Alberto Zaccheroni’s squad has swept all before it in the qualifiers so far. The Asian powerhouse has won all three of its home matches, including a 6-0 hammering of Jordan.
The teams played out an entertaining 1-1 draw in Brisbane 12 months ago, but Japan won the previous encounter 1-0 at the 2011 Asian Cup. On both occasions the score was 0-0 at half-time , as has been the case four of the last five times the teams have met.
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