In-form Japan a big threat

Australia's physiotherapy staff faces a mammoth challenge getting the Qantas Socceroos ready for their World Cup qualifier against Japan on Tuesday.

Australia's physiotherapy staff faces a mammoth challenge getting the Qantas Socceroos ready for their World Cup qualifier against Japan on Tuesday.

Having survived the sweltering conditions in Oman with a 0-0 draw on Friday, the Qantas Socceroos have flown to Brisbane and must recover from jet lag and dehydration to have any chance of defeating Japan.

Australia's head coach Holger Osieck claimed his line-up against Oman was selected primarily on form and physical presentation in training and that may point to which factors the German will focus on when picking a team to play Japan.

Osieck is likely to select the players in his squad that recover the quickest as the Qantas Socceroos host the Group B leaders of AFC World Cup qualifying.

Japan defeated Oman 3-0 in their opening match of Asia's final round of qualifying on June 3 and then thumped Jordan 6-0 on Friday with the reigning Asian Cup champions playing both games at home. Keisuke Honda scored a hat-trick for Japan against Jordan but he is not the only weapon at coach Alberto Zaccheroni's disposal.

New Manchester United signing Shinji Kagawa also scored against Jordan and links well in midfield with Honda, Yasuhito Endo and Makoto Hasebe.

While Japan look to be in red-hot form, playing Middle Eastern nations at home is a much easier task than heading to on the road and the Qantas Socceroos will hope their decent head-to-head record is an indication they can overcome the Japanese.

Australia have not been behind after 90 minutes against Japan in their five most recent meetings, including the Qantas Socceroos' famous 3-1 victory at the 2006 World Cup.

In the four games since that day in Kaiserslautern, the Qantas Socceroos have actually lost twice but both defeats have come at the Asian Cup after scores were tied at the end of regulation time.

Australia looked good in their first half against Oman on Friday but could not break down the home side and after half-time, as the heat and humidity took their toll, the visitors struggled, although substitute Archie Thompson could have clinched victory for the Qantas Socceroos if his late header had been on target.

Osieck is expected to pick a different starting side against Japan both to freshen up his team but also to deal with a different opponent in Brisbane.

With Josh Kennedy and Tim Cahill having remained on the bench throughout Friday's game in Muscat, the attacking pair are widely expected to see at least some game time against Japan.

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