DOHA (Sporting Alert) — With a World Cup 2014 slot already confirmed, Japan can play with far less tension when they take on Iraq in Doha on Tuesday evening.
Japan booked their place last week, following a 1-1 draw with Australia, but the rest of the teams involved in the Group B Asian qualifiers are still fighting for another place.
The Japan side have already secured 14 points, a total no other team can match.
“This is the final match in our qualifying campaign,” head coach Alberto Zaccheroni said.
“We have qualified for the finals but the rest of the Group B teams are still fighting for their chance.”
“Iraq have unity in their team and have high overall team ability,” said the Italian coach. “It is expected to be very hot and that will be a disadvantage for us.”
Zaccheroni could be tempted to rest some of his players, but revealed that they will look to play a strong team as the players continue to fight for World Cup places and the Confederations Cup preparation continues.
“We’ll take extra care in this match as we are also preparing for the Confederations Cup,” Zaccheroni said.
“We are going to finish one phase through to the end of the Confederations Cup and will then have the final phase [for the World Cup].
“From that point on, all players will start from scratch to fight for their places.
“We have some good up-and-coming players and that will make for good competition within the team.”
Iraq v Japan
Iraq: Sabri, Ismail, Ali Rehema, Ahmed Ibrahim, Ali Adnan, Salman, Abdulameer, Salim, Ahmed, Mahmoud, Abdul-Zehra
Subs: Hassan, Ali Bahjat, Mulla Mohammed, Akram, Kareem, Tariq, Ali, Shakir, Radhi, Khalid, Hameed
Japan: Kawashima, Konno, Hiroki Sakai, Inoha, Nagatomo, Endo, Kiyotake, Kagawa, Hosogai, Okazaki, Havenaar
Subs: Nishikawa, Gotuko Sakai, Honda, Uchida, Nakamura, Maeda, Inui, Takahashi, Yoshida, Gonda
Referee: Valentin Kovalenko (Uzbekistan)