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The friendly at Niigata Stadium will allow the Group B-leading Samurai Blue extra time to prepare to face former coach Zico's Iraq squad five days later in Saitama

The Japan Football Association (JFA) on Thursday announced a September 6 friendly against the United Arab Emirates at Big Swan Stadium in Niigata.

The match, originally scheduled to coincide with the Fifa-recognized September 7 match-day, was pushed one day forward at the request of Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni in order to allow his team enough time to recover before their September 11 qualifier against Iraq, who are currently managed by former Japan coach Zico.

"UAE dropped out in the third round of qualifying, but they're still a strong team," JFA Executive Director Michihiro Tanaka told reporters. "They play similarly to Iraq and in that sense they'll be a good opponent."

Japan are currently ranked 20th by Fifa, while UAE are ranked 116th. The two teams last played in an October 2008 friendly at Niigata Stadium that ended in a 1-1 draw.

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