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September 6, 2011 7:30 PM IST
Paxtakor Markaziy Stadion — Toshkent (Tashkent)
Referee:‬ Khalil Al Ghamdi‎
Attendance:‬ 32000‎

Fifa World Cup Qualifier Preview: Uzbekistan - Japan

Both teams are looking for a second victory in the third round of qualifying in what is their fourth meeting against each other, while Hiroshi Kiyotake eyes his first full cap

By Dan Orlowitz

Hiroshi Kiyotake of Japan national team
Getty Images

Uzbekistan (3-3-3-1): Nesterov; Mullajanov, Denisov, Tukhtakhodjaev; Andreev, Haydarov, Kapadze; Ahmedov, Geynrikh, Djeparov; Shatskikh

After a 72nd minute goal by Maksim Shatskikh gave hosts Uzbekistan an opening win against minnows Tajikistan, they will have much more formidable opposition in visiting Japan.

Midfielder Odil Ahmedov will be looking to avenge Uzbekistan's 2009 loss to Japan, where he was well marshalled by Japan defender Makoto Hasebe, while 2008 Asian Footballer of the Year Serger Djeparov will face off against 2009 recipient Yasuhito Endo. Like North Korea, Uzbekistan are expected to set themselves up not to concede and will rely heavily on a counter-attack. They will be happy to take away any points from this match.

Japan (4-2-3-1): Kawashima; Uchida, Konno, Kurihara, Komano; Endo, Hasebe; Kiyotake, Kagawa, Okazaki; Lee

Japan will be optimistic but wary heading into this match with Uzbekistan after just three days of rest. This will be the Samurai Blue's first match outside of their home country since the Asian Cup final in January. Coach Alberto Zaccheroni will keep his 4-2-3-1 formation but Cerezo Osaka's Hiroshi Kiyotake is likely to earn a starting role in place of Yosuke Kashiwagi, who was ineffective against the North Koreans.

The big question facing Japan is the state of their attack now that they will spend at least three months without striker Keisuke Honda, who underwent knee surgery in Spain this weekend. Tadanari Lee, unimpressive against North Korea, is an option, however Mike Havenaar did well on debut as a substitute on Friday and could be handed a start.

  • Both teams are coming off 1-0 victories to start their third round campaigns.
  • This is the first meeting between Japan and Uzbekistan since World Cup 2010 qualifying in June 2009. Japan won that match 1-0 in Tashkent thanks to Shinji Okazaki's ninth-minute goal but ended the game down a man after Makoto Hasebe received a late red card.
  • Tuesday's match will be the fourth meeting between the two sides. Aside from the two WC2010 qualifiers, Japan won a friendly in September 1996.
  • Uzbekistan shocked the confederation in January by reaching the semifinals of the Asian Cup, where they lost to Australia by a 6-0 score.
  • Uzbekistan went undefeated in the second round of World Cup qualifying, beating Kyrgyzstan 4-0 and 3-0.

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