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3 vs 0
June 3, 2012 4:00 PM IST
Saitama Stadium 2002 — Saitama
Referee:‬ R. Irmatov‎
Attendance:‬ 63551‎

Japan - Oman Preview: Samurai Blue look to flex muscle early against secretive Al-Ahmar

With the full slate of Europe-based players ready to play a part, home supporters will expect a big result against the 92nd Fifa-ranked nation on Sunday night

By Dan Orlowitz

Japan national team
Getty Images


Uchida, Yoshida, Konno, Nagatomo
Hasebe, Endo
Okazaki, Honda, Kagawa

Al Habsi
Al Mukhaini, Salam, M. Al Balushi, S. Al Balushi
Hadid, Al Hadri, Darwish
Al Muqbali, Al Hosni

Japan will be looking to get off to a quick start in the final round of qualifying for Brazil 2014 with a win against visiting Oman in Saitama Stadium, where the hosts are virtually invincible under manager Alberto Zaccheroni and will be playing in front of a sell-out crowd.

The Samurai Blue will come out swinging with their traditional 4-2-3-1 formation featuring Keisuke Honda, who proved himself fit in last week's 2-0 win against minnows Azerbaijan, at shadow striker. With Tadanari Lee recovering from foot surgery, Vitesse's Mike Havenaar is expected to start up top.

Conversely, Oman are expected to play for the draw as they rely on a stiff back four and the goalkeeping efforts of Wigan's Ali Al-Habsi to see them through the 90 minutes.

The visitors have been incredibly secretive heading into this match; Japanese TV stations abandoned efforts to obtain footage of Oman's recent friendly against Lebanon when their federation set a price of €200,000 for the full match, and Japanese media have largely been locked out of practices.

  • Japan have an unbeaten record against Oman with five wins and three draws.
  • Shinji Okazaki leads the team with five goals in the qualifiers.
  • Twelve of Japan's 25 members are currently active in Europe, with two more (Hiroshi Kiyotake and Hiroki Sakai) set to join Bundesliga sides this summer.
  • Oman have yet to qualify for a World Cup final.
  • Coach Paul Le Guen lead Cameroon to the 2010 World Cup finals, in addition to coaching French club Lyon to three straight Ligue 1 crowns.
  • Al-Ahmar reached the final round of qualifying by scoring just three goals in six matches, leapfrogging Saudi Arabia to finish second in Group D beneath Australia.

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