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J-League based striker Joshua Kennedy keen on renewing rivalries for Australia against Japan in World Cup qualifying

J-League based striker Joshua Kennedy keen on renewing rivalries for Australia against Japan in World Cup qualifying

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Kennedy has played his best club football in with Nagoya Grampus, but he would like nothing better than to get one over Japan for the Socceroos

Nagoya Grampus' Australia international striker Josh Kennedy is relishing the prospect of meeting Japan in the fourth round of AFC 2014 World Cup qualifying.

Speaking after Nagoya were held 1-1 in their AFC Champions League match against Central Coast in Gosford on Wednesday, the 29-cap Socceroo was asked his thoughts on his country's path to Brazil.

The two clashes - at home on June 12 and away on June 4, 2013 - against fellow group favourites Japan in particular caught the eye of Kennedy.

"I was quite happy, I always enjoy playing the Japanese national team and apart from that Asian Cup final [in 2011, which Australia lost 1-0 in extra-time], we've had good success over them," said Kennedy, who also revealed he spoke to Socceroos coach Holger Osieck before Wednesday's match.

"So I think over the years it's built up a good rivalry and I think they look forward to it as much as we do."

Kennedy has established himself as a proven performer for his J-League club since moving from then-Bundesliga outfit Karlsruhe in 2009, scoring 51 goals in 95 appearances in all competitions for Nagoya.

Fellow Socceroo Alex Brosque is now making his way in the J-League with Shimizu S-Pulse, having scored a double for his country in February's 4-2 win over Saudi Arabia.

When asked if Australia's front line during World Cup qualifying could feature two Japan-based forwards, Kennedy's response was positive: "I think if you look at both myself and Brosquey, we've both definitely improved and gone to the next level, I think, and it gives us a chance to improve our football, in terms of playing regularly, and also technical-wise.

"It'll be good to play alongside Brosquey; he's a smart player and a smart guy also."

As well as Japan, Australia share Group B with Jordan, Oman and Iraq.  The Socceroos' campaign gets underway against Oman in Muscat on June 8, and Kennedy believes a good start in what looms as a tricky group is "very important".

"It's going to be tough, playing those countries takes its toll. A lot of us come from Asia, heading over that way, and the others come from Europe, so it's not like we're a two-hour flight away," he said.

"Saying that, it's going to be tough, but they've got to do the same thing; they've got to come to Australia."

On his club future, at least, Kennedy remains confident and happy to stay in Japan with Nagoya.

"Speak to my wife, yes. You never know. I mean, I'm enjoying my football, enjoying my life, and the kids and the family are settling in, so no rush to change it at the moment," he said.

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