Australia
1
World Cup Qualifiers
(Tue 11 Oct 2016, 08.00PM LOCAL)
FINAL
Venue: Etihad Stadium, Melbourne
Fox Sports
Channel 9
Japan
1

Timeline

FFA TV | Caltex Socceroos team walk

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Jedinak ready to take on Blue Samurai

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Stern test awaits Socceroos

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Preview: Caltex Socceroos v Japan

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FFA TV | Caltex Socceroos team walk
FFA TV | Caltex Socceroos team walk
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Jedinak ready to take on Blue Samurai
Jedinak ready to take on Blue Samurai
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Stern test awaits Socceroos
Stern test awaits Socceroos
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Preview: Caltex Socceroos v Japan
Preview: Caltex Socceroos v Japan

Preview: Caltex Socceroos v Japan

Two AFC big guns, a massive rivalry and both nations with genuine designs on an automatic World Cup qualification spot. It all makes for a blockbuster qualifier when Australia host Japan in Melbourne on Tuesday night.

And make no mistake in the context of Group B standings; this is an absolutely crucial game for the Samurai Blue.

Japan will know a loss in Australia and their group chances will take a major hit – particularly if Saudi Arabia defeat UAE on Tuesday night in Jeddah.

A home game for Japan against the Saudis in November (what a huge game that’ll be for both nations), means Japan simply must leave Docklands with at least a point to stay in striking distance of the top two.

Will Japan open up and expose themselves to Cahill and Co and their relentless high press and attacking threats?

Or will veteran coach Vahid Halilhodžić’ - a well respected manager who coached Algeria at the last World Cup - set up with a compact structure, aiming to blunt the Australians and hit them on the transition with their pace and trickery?

Whatever happens, this should be an absolutely fascinating qualifier and with so much at stake, tensions will be high. 

Attacking Japan will suit Caltex Socceroos

Caltex Socceroo striker on why he's fit and firing

Caltex Socceroos opposition dossier: Japan

Gallery: Caltex Socceroos Fan Day in Melbourne

After a shock defeat at home in their opening qualifier, Japan have bounced back with wins over Thailand (2-0) followed by a 95th-minute goal to beat Iraq 2-1 last Thursday.

Halilhodžić’s team, though, haven’t been anywhere near their best so far.

The Caltex Socceroos were perhaps unlucky not to beat the Saudis last week and you can be sure they’ll relish the cooler conditions in Melbourne.

That said, Japan have a side oozing with quality and can never be discounted.

With Leicester City’s Shinji Okazaki leading the attack and the likes of Keisuke Honda, Stuttgart’s Takuma Asano, Shinji Kagawa, Makoto Hasebe and Genki Haraguchi, this is a Japanese team that can easily click into gear. 

Japan have long been the powerhouse of the AFC but last year’s Asian Cup triumph by Australia has seen the green and gold take the mantle.

But the Samurai Blue will feel this is an opportunity to restore their reputation and reinvigorate their stuttering campaign.

Despite the draw with the Saudis, Australia’s performance on the road was excellent and belief won’t have wavered despite dropping their first points of this group stage.

Fatigue may be the only question mark after a long trip back from Jeddah where the squad only arrived in Melbourne late on Saturday night.

But Australia’s investment in the best sports science and recovery staff and techniques comes into play now.

There are no major issues in the squad, despite skipper Mile Jedinak being the only player to miss Sunday’s light field session.

All 23 players are expected to be available for selection, with Ange Postecoglou likely to make a couple of changes to freshen up his squad.

Tim Cahill and Massimo Luongo came off the bench in Jeddah and are two options to be unleashed from the start.

Cahill loves playing against Japan and has scored some crucial goals against them. The Samurai Blue cannot contain the great man, it seems.

A fresh Ryan McGowan might also be considered for a start at right-back as well.

Another thrilling and fascinating chapter in the epic rivalry awaits fans at what should be a packed Docklands.

 

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The Fan View: Socceroos v Japan Play Video

The Fan View: Socceroos v Japan

Re-live the Caltex Socceroos hard-fought 1-1 draw with Japan through the eyes of the supporters.

Post Match Videos

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The Fan View: Socceroos v Japan

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Caltex Socceroos held by Japan

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Caltex Socceroos press conference

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Australia v Japan highlights

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The Fan View: Socceroos v Japan
The Fan View: Socceroos v Japan
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Caltex Socceroos held by Japan
Caltex Socceroos held by Japan
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Caltex Socceroos press conference
Caltex Socceroos press conference
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Australia v Japan highlights
Australia v Japan highlights

Caltex Socceroos defied by Japan to earn point

The Caltex Socceroos have been held to a 1-1 draw with Japan in a pulsating FIFA World Cup qualifier in front of almost 50,000 fans in Melbourne on Tuesday night.

Just like in Jeddah four days ago, Australia was hit with an early goal as Japan went in front inside five minutes through Genki Haraguchi.

But a second half penalty, converted by skipper Mile Jedinak, drew Australia level and while they probed hard for a winner, Ange Postecoglou’s side had to settle for a point.

Australia remains unbeaten in the group after four matches on eight points heading into their next qualifier in Thailand next month.

In front of 48,460 fans at Docklands, Japan set up to frustrate the Aussies early, sat deep to congest the midfield and force an error to hit on the counter attack.

It worked to a tee early as they silenced the home crowd with an early goal.

A loose pass was pounced on by Shinji Kagawa and passed to Keisuke Honda  who then sent Karaguchi away and he fired it in low past Mat Ryan.

The Caltex Socceroos appeared a little shell-shocked and had to work hard to try and take the sting out of Japan’s early pressure.

While Australia’s passing wasn’t at its crisp best, Tomi Juric was looking the most dangerous and he had the home side’s best early chance.

Juric rose highest to meet Aaron Mooy’s whipped free-kick but he couldn’t crane his header enough to keep it under the crossbar.

The visitors remained dangerous on the break with Haraguchi teeing up Honda on the edge of the box, but luckily for Australia his shot was straight into the arms of Ryan.

Three minutes later Mile Jedinak tried his luck from a free-kick 30 yards from goal, forcing keeper Shusaku Nishikawa to punch away.

No changes at the break for the Caltex Socceroos as they continued to look for a solution to break down the well-organised Japan rear-guard. And they soon got their lifeline.

Brad Smith got free down the left and his cross made its way to Juric who bundled over by Haraguchi for a penalty.

Jedinak’s spot kick was assured and sweet to draw Australia level. 

Docklands was now rocking as the Caltex Socceroos wrestled back the momentum.

Soon after, Juric was involved in another tussle in the box but this time had his penalty appeal turned down, while Matthew Spiranovic couldn’t get enough power on his header to beat Nishikawa.

The home side were turning to screws and with 20 minutes left Ange Postecoglou brought on Tim Cahill for Juric as they went in search for a winner.

Japan had a great chance to regain the lead 17 minutes from the end but Ryan got down low to his right to somehow keep out Yu Kobayashi’s header.

Australia finished stronger and almost pinched it late when Spiranovic headed over the bar from Massimo Luongo’s free-kick. But it ended a draw leaving Group B wide open.