The rivalry: Caltex Socceroos v Japan 2006-2011

On August 31 in Saitama, Tokyo, a new chapter in the Japan vs Australia rivalry will play out in an absolutely critical World Cup qualifier.

The last ten years has seen the Australia and Japan rivalry ramp up on regional and world arenas.

GALLERY: epic moments in Caltex Socceroos v Japan rivalry

We look at the first half of the last decade and recount the story of this rivalry as both teams prepare to meet in northern Tokyo with automatic qualification on the line for both nations. 


Both nations have enjoyed a decade of success. 

In this time, Japan have won an Asian Cup and qualified for each World Cup (Germany, South Africa and Brazil). As have the Caltex Socceroos 

This modern-day rivalry became supercharged on a hot day in Germany 11 years ago. 

2006 FIFA World Cup group match: June 12, 2006, Fritz Walter Stadion, Kaiserslautern, Germany

Japan took a first half lead. It looked like they may hang on for a famous win as the clock ticked over into the final 10 minutes on a very hot day in Germany. Then, on came Tim Cahill as a late substitute and all hell broke loose.

Stung by being left out of the starting XI, he popped up to slam home a loose ball to equalise, then he gave Australia the lead with a fizzing drive.

Tim Cahill celebrates scoring against Japan at the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

John Aloisi capped the day by powering through a tiring Samurai Blue defence to deliver a third and final goal for the super-fit Socceroos to win it 3-1.

Australia’s first game at the World Cup since 1974, their first goals and first win ever at the tournament.

 It was some celebration back home and in Kaiserslautern.

2007 AFC Asian Cup quarter final: July 21, 2007, My Dinh Stadium, Hanoi, Vietnam

Japan’s revenge. 13 months later in the steamy surrounds of Hanoi, the Samurai Blue knocked the Green and Gold out of the Asian Cup in the two nations’ 12 th meeting.

After a Harry Kewell corner, John Aloisi popped up at the far post to give Australia what seemed to be a winning lead with around 20 minutes left.

John Aloisi v Japan

But Japan immediately equalised after a defensive mix up. Takahara with the leveller.

The game finished 1-1 and it went to penalties where Mark Schwarzer was unable to stop the Japanese from taking their revenge in the shootout.

2011 AFC Asian Cup final: July 21, 2011, Khalifa International Stadium, Doha, Qatar

With a trophy on the line, this was perhaps the most significant game of any.

A tight clash as expected with few chances for each side and both keepers shining.

Japan 2011

Australia thought they had a lead with the ball rolling along the Japan line while the Japanese almost scored with a header by Okazaki flashing inches wide.

In the end a moment of sublime magic from Tadanari Lee separated the two sides in extra time with the Japanese winning it 1-0.

Tomorrow: 2011-2016 in the Japan v Australia rivalry