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WC Qualification Asia

  • 4 June 2013
  • • 20:34
  • • Saitama Stadium 2002, Saitama
  • Referee: Nawaf Shukralla
  • • Attendance: 62172
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World Cup qualifying preview: Japan v Australia

World Cup qualifying preview: Japan v Australia

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Australia's World Cup qualification campaign has come down to the wire, with the first of three crucial matches to come against Japan on Tuesday

  PROBABLE LINE-UPS

JAPAN

Kawashima
Uchida, Yoshida, Konno, Nagatomo
Hasebe, Endo
Honda, Kagawa, Kiyotake
Okazaki
AUSTRALIA

Schwarzer
Wilkshire, Neill, Ognenovski, McKay
Kruse, Milligan, Bresciano, Oar
Holman
Cahill
Australia tackle Japan in Saitama on Tuesday desperate for points as they seek to secure a place at the 2014 FIFA World Cup finals.

Hosts Japan are the runaway leaders in Group B of AFC fourth-round qualifying, six points clear of second-placed Jordan and effectively needing just one more point - and other results to go their way - to secure a place at the showcase event in Brazil.

Australia are third in the pool, one point behind Jordan, who they host in Melbourne on June 11, before a game against Iraq in Sydney a week later.

Those two home matches are likely to prove decisive in determining the Socceroos' fate, but any points they can pick up against Japan would be a valuable bonus.

The previous meeting between the teams in June 2012 ended in a 1-1 draw in Brisbane, where a Luke Wilkshire penalty cancelled out Yuzo Kurihara's opener for the visitors.

Both teams ended the match at Suncorp Stadium a man down, with Mark Milligan and goalscorer Kurihara both receiving second yellow cards.

Prior to that game, Japan defeated Australia 1-0 after extra-time in the final of the 2011 Asian Cup.

Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni is monitoring star man Keisuke Honda, who picked up a knock in CSKA Moscow's Russian Cup final win against Anzhi Makhachkala on Saturday.

Honda is Japan's highest goalscorer in qualifying with four goals, with Jubilo Iwata veteran Ryoichi Maeda [three], Shinji Kagawa [two] and Shinji Okazaki [two] also among those to find the net.

If Honda does miss out, Japan will look to Manchester United's attacking midfielder Kagawa to lead by example.

Stuttgart's Okazaki is expected to beat out Maeda to lead the line.

Australia coach Holger Osieck has recalled fit-again front man Josh Kennedy.

Kennedy will be well-known to his opponents, having spent the last four years banging in goals for Japanese club Nagoya Grampus.

But Kennedy is not guaranteed to start the game, as Osieck may opt to select in-form New York Red Bulls man Tim Cahill in an advanced role.

He will be supported by Brett Holman, despite the midfielder being out of favour at Aston Villa during the second half of the season.

Mile Jedinak, fresh from leading Crystal Palace to Championship playoff glory, is carrying an ankle knock and may not take his place alongside Mark Bresciano in midfield.

If he is not passed fit, Mark Milligan, James Holland and Michael Thwaite are among the potential replacements.

At the back, Sasa Ognenovski's recall is set to include a place in the starting XI alongside captain Lucas Neill, with Matt McKay to take the troublesome left-back spot.

Japan suffered a surprise 2-0 friendly defeat to Bulgaria on Wednesday, while Australia's last outing ended in a 2-2 draw at home to Oman in March.

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