The Caltex Socceroos' opponents next Tuesday night in Melbourne have squeezed past Iraq in dramatic fashion in FIFA World Cup qualifying action overnight.
Substitute Hotaru Yamaguchi struck a dramatic stoppage-time winner as Japan snatched a 2-1 victory over the Iraqis.
It looked as though Iraq, who had lost both of their previous Group B fixtures, would get off the mark when Saad Abdulameer headed home an equaliser on the hour mark in Saitama.
The visitors may have felt a point was just reward for their efforts, especially given the nature of Japan's opener midway through the first half, with Hiroshi Kiyotake seemingly a couple of yards offside before his cross was cheekily converted by Genki Haraguchi's flicked finish.
Vahid Halilhodzic's side were well shackled in their efforts to force a winner following Abdulameer's equaliser, although Keisuke Honda went agonisingly close with a header against the outside of the post.
But in time added on, a free-kick from the left was headed clear and Yamaguchi thumped a superb first-time volley through a crowded penalty area from 25 yards to spark wild celebrations from the hosts.
Japan - who have reached each of the past five World Cups - now have six points from three matches. They meet Australia next Tuesday in Melbourne.
The Caltex Socceroos have seven points along with fellow group leader Saudi Arabia after the two nations drew 2-2 in Jeddah.
Aussies Abroad: Luongo, Irvine help sides to important Championship wins
Massimo Luongo and Jackson Irvine both braved atrocious English weather to help steer their sides to Championship victories on Sunday morning (AEDT). And in warmer temperatures, Matt Jurman’s Al Ittihad broke through for their first win of the Saudi Arabia Pro League season at
Degenek not taking his foot off the gas
Twelve months ago, Caltex Socceroos defender Milos Degenek was playing in Japan — now, he’s tearing up Serbia’s SuperLiga, having been named in the league’s best eleven for the first half of the season. It’s a credit to Degenek, 24, who signed with Red Star Belgrade in July
Degenek named in Serbian Superliga's best XI
Caltex Socceroos defender Milos Degenek has been named in the Serbian Superliga’s best eleven players of the first half of the season after his performances for Red Star Belgrade. AUSSIES ABROAD: Sainsbury denies former club Inter in first UCL start READ MORE: Where you can w
FFA to conduct additional injury assessment with Aaron Mooy
Football Federation Australia (FFA) acknowledges Huddersfield Town’s statement regarding Aaron Mooy released on Thursday morning (AEDT). Due to the significance of the AFC Asian Cup to the Caltex Socceroos, FFA will proceed with a plan to deploy its High Performance Coordina