The Socceroos’ quest for a fifth-straight FIFA World Cup appearance continues tonight as Australia take on rivals Japan in Saitama.
The Socceroos currently sit atop of Group B, with three wins, and are currently on an 11-game win streak.
With seven games still to play, which includes tonight’s clash with Japan, Australia must finish either first or second in Group B to qualify for the World Cup. A third-place finish would send the Socceroos to a dreaded play-off with the nation who finishes third- from Group A.
While the Socceroos are in form, with wins against China, Vietnam and Oman during the Group B stages, tonight will be their toughest test.
Japan, ranked 26th in the FIFA world rankings, have never lost to Australia on home soil.
But as it stands, tonight’s game is even more crucial for the Blue Samurai, who have just one win and two losses so far in Group B.
The Japanese will know that a loss tonight will severely impact their chances of a smooth qualification for the 2022 World Cup.
Japan’s coach Hajime Moriyasu has also found his name in the headlines for all the wrong reasons, with his coaching future in doubt amid his nation’s form slump.
“The Japanese no doubt have all the pressure on them because they have only won one game out of three,” Australia coach Graham Arnold said earlier in the weeks.
“Every time we step out on the field we expect to win the game… and we will do that again on Tuesday.”
After tonight’s clash with Japan, Australia’s schedule doesn’t get much easier, with a match against Saudi Arabia to follow, who are also undefeated in Group B with three wins.
The Socceroos famously qualified for the 2018 World Cup through the play-off stages after falling short in the group stages.
The action gets underway from 9.14pm AEDT.