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
Uchida, Yoshida, Konno, Nagatomo
Okazaki, Honda, Kagawa
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.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- 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.
Top 3 Predictions
Japan 3-0 Oman
- 19.05 %
Japan 2-0 Oman
- 18.57 %
Japan 1-0 Oman
- 12.38 %
|World Cup Qualification - Asia (WCQA)||14-Nov-2012||Oman 1 - Japan 2|
|World Cup Qualification - Asia (WCQA)||03-Jun-2012||Japan 3 - Oman 0|
|05-Mar-2014||Japan 4 - New Zealand 2||FR|
|20-Nov-2013||Belgium 2 - Japan 3||FR|
|16-Nov-2013||Netherlands 2 - Japan 2||FR|
|15-Oct-2013||Belarus 1 - Japan 0||FR|
|11-Oct-2013||Serbia 2 - Japan 0||FR|
|1||Ali Al Habsi||Goalkeeper|
|-||Jaber Al Owaisi||Defender|
|-||Abdul Sallam Al Mukhaini|
|-||Hussain Al Hadhri||Midfielder|
|-||Mohammed Al Musalami||Midfielder|
|-||Emad Al Hosani|
|6||Raed Ibrahim Saleh||Midfielder|
|18||Faiz Al Rashidi||Goalkeeper|
|8||Ali Salim Al Nahar||Defender|
|5||Mohammed Al Balushi||Defender|
|-||Mohamed Al Maashari||Midfielder|
|4||Ali Al Jabri||Midfielder|
|-||Mohammed Al Ghassani|
|-||Azan Al Balushi||Defender|
|-||Abdul Aziz Al Muqbali||Midfielder|
|-||Ismail Al Ajmi|
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed