North Korea travels to Saitama to challenge the Samurai Blue who will have to do without the injured Keisuke Honda
|Japan (4-2-3-1): Kawashima; Uchida, Konno, Kurihara, Komano; Endo, Hasebe; Okazaki, Kagawa, Kashiwagi; Lee
Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni will have some tough choices to make with the absence of Keisuke Honda and Kengo Nakamura from the line-up. Urawa Reds midfielder Yosuke Kashiwagi is a likely choice to replace Honda behind Lee in what would be a 4-2-3-1 formation similar to that which Japan used to dismantle South Korea in last month's friendly.
While Zaccheroni has a couple other formation options at his disposal, this is a must-win match and with two stars already out he will not be in the mood for too much experimentation.
|North Korea (4-4-2): Ri Myong-Guk; Ri Kwang-Chon, Ri Kwang-Hyok, Pak Nam-Chol, An Jong-Ho; Pak Nam-Chol, Ri Chol-Myong, Ryang Yong-Gi, Jong Su-Hyok; Jong Il-Gwan, Jong Tae-Se||
North Korea travelled to Japan for the first time in six years, and the team is shielded from any contact with the foreign press, thus no detailed information is available.
Jong Tae-Se, who grew up in Japan and played several seasons at Kawasaki Frontale, should be in the starting line-up, returning from injury.
||DID YOU KNOW?|
- Since Japan's elimination in the Round of 16 in South Africa, they are on a 13-game unbeaten streak.
- This will be the only World Cup qualifier scheduled this weekend featuring two teams that participated in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
- This will be Japan and North Korea's first meeting since a friendly on February 17 2008, which ended in a 1-1 draw.
- North Korea's average squad age of 23.26 years is nearly two years lower than the 25.69 years of Japan's team.
- In 2005, the last time these two teams met in World Cup qualifying, Japan won both matches by 2-0 and 2-1 scores.
- Because of complicated diplomatic issues between the two countries, this will be the North Korean team's first visit to Japan in over six years.