With a win or a draw against Australia on Wednesday, Japan will become the first nation to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. They had a chance to clinch qualification during the last round of AFC qualifiers, but lost to Jordan to delay their celebration.
Both Japan and Australia have been hampered by injuries throughout qualifying so far, but saw their best European-based players emerge from the club season unscathed. Japan has all of Keisuke Honda, Shinji Kagawa, Hiroshi Kiyotake and Shinji Okazaki healthy, presenting some selection dilemmas in attacking midfield. Australia welcome the return of Joshua Kennedy, their talented Japanese-based target man who should play a big part, whether he starts the match or comes off the bench.
Australia currently sit third in Group B, in a playoff spot. They have a game in hand on second-placed Jordan and fourth-placed Oman, but the tight nature of the group means that their situation is a tumultuous one. Oman only trail them on goal differential, while Iraq are behind by just one point. A loss to Japan would put them in a sticky situation, but a draw puts them in control of their own destiny.
Match date/time: Wednesday, 6:30 a.m. ET
Venue: Saitama Stadium, Saitama, Japan
TV: One World Sports (U.S.), Eurosport (U.K.), FOX Sports (Australia)