Australia are confident they can overcome disappointing preparation for their crucial 2022 World Cup qualifier against Japan on Thursday and maintain their hopes of qualifying directly for the final in Doha later this year.
Japan’s victory in Sydney will give the samurai warriors and Saudi Arabia direct qualification to the final tournament in Qatar, and leave Australia with a difficult task to reach the Asian playoffs and the world dimension for the fifth consecutive appearance in the World Cup. World. But the draw will keep Australia’s hopes arithmetic ahead of the final qualifier in Saudi Arabia next week. But realistically, Australia know they have to beat Japan, a feat they haven’t been able to achieve for over a decade.
This challenge is compounded by the absence of several prominent players, including influential midfield duo Aaron Mooy and Tom Rogic, as well as the possible absence of manager Graham Arnold, who has COVID-19.
Assistant coach Rene Mullenstein did press duty for Arnold on Wednesday and said the players were excited to have the chance to write the history of the game in Australia.
“These are the games that players will be talking about for years to come,” added Dutchman Mullenstein, a former assistant to Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.
“These are the games that any player wants to remember. Everyone knows the task ahead, but the excitement will make players look their best. I have no doubts about it.”
Japan will be without defender Takehiro Tomiyasu and forward Yuya Osako due to injury, but captain Maya Yoshida will return to the team for the final two qualifying matches.
A draw on Thursday would leave Japan needing another point in their final Group B game at home against Vietnam next week for a place in Qatar, but coach Hajime Moriyasu said his team wanted things to happen in Sydney.
“Our plan is to win, not draw. With the game going on, our plan may change… but we will play to win.”
“We have to play harder than the Australian team.”