The Socceroos face their toughest battle in FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifying to date as they take on fierce rivals Japan in Saitama on Tuesday night at 9:14pm (AEDT).
Watch all of the action LIVE & FREE on 10 Bold and 10 Play!
The Green and Gold became the first-ever side to win 11 straight FIFA World Cup qualifiers on Friday morning (AEDT) as they defeated Oman 3-1.
Australia will head to Tokyo full of confidence after beating the nation that defeated Japan back on matchday one.
They face a Japanese team who have lost two of their past three matches and are in desperate need of a victory to re-ignite their qualification campaign.
A win against the Blue Samurai at their famous Saitama Stadium will have Graham Arnold's side within touching distance of qualification for our nation's fifth-straight FIFA World Cup Finals.
While a 12th win could also go a long way to ending Japan’s realistic prospects of automatic qualification for next year’s FIFA World Cup, Australia have not beaten Japan in their last seven matches, stretching back to 2009.
The Socceroos have also never beaten the Blue Samurai on Japanese soil, but this will not worry them. Arnold’s men approach the match with no fear about playing on the road because 10 of their 11 consecutive wins have come outside of Australia.
Japan are ranked 26th in the FIFA world ranking, with all but five members of their squad plying their trade across Europe.
Liverpool’s Takumi Minamino and Celtic’s Kyogo Furuhashi will be ones to watch while Daichi Kamada is club teammate of Ajdin Hrustic at Eintracht Frankfurt and Ado Onaiwu plays alongside Denis Genreau at Toulouse.
Despite Japan losing their first two matches, it has all the makings of a classic encounter with both sides having plenty to play for.
Matchday 4: Japan v Australia
Date: Tuesday, 12 October 2021
Venue: Saitama Stadium, Saitama, Japan
Kick-off: 7.14pm local (9.14pm AEDT)
Broadcast: Live and free in Australia on 10 Bold and 10 Play – pre-game coverage from 8.30pm AEDT
How to watch
Yet again, Tuesday's match will be broadcast live and free via Network Ten and 10 Play.
Fans can watch the prime-time meeting with Japan on 10 Bold, or alternatively, stream the action via the 10 play app and website.
To watch all of the latest involving Socceroos and the rest of Asian Qualifying, Australian football fans can visit https://10play.com.au/socceroos.
For fans based outside of Australia, click here to read about how you can access the action.
What they said
Socceroos head coach Graham Arnold
“The Japanese no doubt have all the pressure on them because they have only won one game out of three. Every time we step out on the field we expect to win the game. We will do that again on Tuesday."
Socceroos goalkeeper Mathew Ryan:
On Australia’s recent run of results:
“We’ve had some great results to start this phase of qualifying with three wins. I feel like we (the Socceroos) are in a good place, and we have built up some really good momentum from the first group phase. We are enjoying the run.”
On what the strength of the Socceroos is:
“I would say it is the togetherness of the team, that is our real backbone, how much of a family environment that we have. Every player works hard for one another, and I would say that that is really the biggest strength of our team, that complete trust that we have in one another, the willingness to have each other’s back and we want to do all that we can on the pitch to help one another and help be the best team that we can be.”
On what the Socceroos can expect against Japan:
“I think the Japanese DNA is that they have always had very technical and skilful players. Japan have many players playing in top leagues around the world, in Europe, and plenty of players that have a lot of qualities to really hurt opposition teams. We need to respect that, of course. We will be looking to take advantage of the form that we have, the momentum we have, and who we are as a team at the moment to really come here and put Japan under pressure. We are confident that we can get the win.”
Japan head coach Hajime Moriyasu
"We got tired and lost our rhythm against Saudi Arabia, that's when they capitalised and scored. If we don't give up, I believe we can still win a ticket to the World Cup."
What's next for the Socceroos?
Moving forward, Football Australia are in advanced discussions with the NSW Government regarding the Socceroos hosting a designated home AFC Asian Qualifier – Road to Qatar match against Saudi Arabia on 11 November, in Sydney under a Quarantine Management Plan.
To qualify for a fifth consecutive FIFA World Cup™, Australia must finish either first or second in Group B, which includes ten matches to be played from September 2021 to March 2022, to qualify directly.
A third-place finish would send the Socceroos to a play-off against the third-place team from Group A, followed by an intercontinental play-off.