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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.
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Top 3 Predictions
Japan 3-0 Oman
- 19.05 %
Japan 2-0 Oman
- 18.57 %
Japan 1-0 Oman
- 12.38 %
|World Cup Qualifying - Asia (WCQ)||Nov 14, 2012||Oman 1 - Japan 2|
|World Cup Qualifying - Asia (WCQ)||Jun 3, 2012||Japan 3 - Oman 0|
|Mar 26, 2013||Jordan 2 - Japan 1||WCQ|
|Mar 22, 2013||Japan 2 - Canada 1||FR|
|Feb 6, 2013||Japan 3 - Latvia 0||FR|
|Nov 14, 2012||Oman 1 - Japan 2||WCQ|
|Oct 16, 2012||Japan 0 - Brazil 4||FR|
|Returns:||Japan £11.40||Sign up with bet365 for a free bet up to £200|
|Returns:||Draw £610.00||Sign up with William Hill for a free bet up to £25|
|Returns:||Oman £810.00||Sign up with William Hill for a free bet up to £25|
|1||Ali Al Habsi||Goalkeeper|
|3||Jaber Al Owaisi||Defender|
|13||Abdul Sallam Al Mukhaini||Defender|
|7||Hussain Al Hadhri||Midfielder|
|2||Mohammed Al Musalami||Midfielder|
|10||Emad Al Hosny||Striker|
|6||Raed Ibrahim Saleh||Midfielder|
|18||Faiz Al Rashidi||Goalkeeper|
|8||Ali Salim Al Nahar||Defender|
|-||Mohammed Al Balushi|
|-||Mohamed Al Maashari||Midfielder|
|4||Ali Al Jabri||Midfielder|
|-||Mohammed Al Ghassani|
|-||Azan Al Balushi|
|9||Abdul Aziz Al Muqbali||Striker|
|15||Ismail Al Ajmi||Striker|
Japan sorely missed Honda in the last qualifying round following his knee surgery, and on Sunday he should show observers why that was the case. Look for the CSKA attacker to be more aggressive in front of the net and re-establish his dominance on the pitch.
|Ali Al Habsi|
Oman's three goals in the previous round underscore how crucial Al-Habsi's performance will be to their chance of success; if the Wigan goalkeeper can hold Japan to one goal instead of three or more it would not only be a moral victory but also keep the team from falling into a deep hole in goal difference.
Oman will do their best to park the bus, but after ending the last qualifying round with two losses Japan will come out swinging and should overwhelm the visitors quickly with their depth on the attack.
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed