World Cup Qualifers: Oman vs Japan Live Stream
By staff - Sat Jun 02, 8:52 pm
Live Stream will start from 14:30 local time.
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Oman advanced to the fourth round as runners-up in the group behind Australia at the expense of three-times Asian champions Saudi Arabia and former Iran coach Afshin Ghotbi believes the Gulf side have a chance to surprise again.
“Oman are the dark horses of the group. Expect a hard-working, defensively organised and dangerous counter-attacking team. They will be difficult to beat in Muscat, especially in the summer months,” Ghotbi, speaking to the Kyodo news agency, predicted.
Saitama – Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni has stressed he will not be taking Oman lightly when the AFC Asian Cup holders meet the Gulf side in the two nations’ opening clash in the final round of qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil on Sunday evening.
The Japanese have never lost to Oman having defeated them along the road towards qualifying for both the 1998 and 2006 FIFA World Cup finals but the Italian will still be showing the utmost respect to Paul Le Guen and his team when they meet at Saitama Stadium.
“It’s never going to be easy at this level,” said Zaccheroni, who led Japan to the continental title in Qatar in January lastyear.
“The Oman team has a good balance but, for me, it’s more important that we show our own strong points because we know Oman are strong.
“Oman proved how good they are by beating the Australians, so we have to show them respect.”
The Omanis progressed to the final phase of qualifying for the FIFA World Cup – for only the second time in their history – from a group that not only featured the Socceroos but also four-time qualifiers Saudi Arabia and South East Asian powerhouses Thailand.
After a disappointing start to the previous round, Le Guen’s team went unbeaten in their final four games – keeping clean sheets in them all – to advance to this stage of the competition for the first time since the qualifying rounds for Korea/Japan 2002.
But while Zaccheroni knows the Omanis present a serious challenge to his team as they set their sights on securing a fifth straightFIFA World Cup appearance for Japan, the former Juventus and AC Milan coachfully appreciates the game is only the opening stage of a longer qualifyingcampaign.
“It’s going to be a really important game tomorrow,” said Zaccheroni. “It’s the first match so we are paying more attention because of that.
“But there are eight qualifiers, not just tomorrow’s game, so we have to consider all eight games and work step by step. All of the games are important.
“Our team is in very good condition both physically and mentally for tomorrow and I want to put my trust in the players and I thinkthey will play well. We have had some good training sessions so far, so we are confident.”
Le Guen, meanwhile, will renew his own personal battle with the Japanese after seeing his Cameroon team lose to the Blue Samurai at the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals in South Africa.
The former Olympique Lyonnais coach went head-to-head with the Japanese in Bloemfontein two years ago, losing 1-0 in the group stages of the competition thanks to a solitary goal by Keisuke Honda.
And Le Guen beleives the reigning AFC Asian Cup holders are a stronger outfit than the one he faced in 2010 thanks to the addition of players such as Shinji Kagawa.
“I think the Japan team has improved because of the new players and these new players have made a very great contribution,” said Le Guen.
“I think with Kagawa and others, now they are better than two years ago. It’s a well-balanced team with world class players and when you have world class players it always becomes different.”
Indeed, Le Guen believes the growing profile of Japan and the players who feature for high profile clubs around Europe makes it easier toprepare his team for the task at hand.
“We have prepared together and I showed the video to the players because I want them to know the team of Japan, but it’s a well-known team,” he said.
“We will work on it but everybody who is in their team so it’s a bit easier. They are famous players in famous clubs and I think they’re will be no surprises for us.”