Ⓒ JoongAng Ilbo / JoongAng Ilbo Japanese version2022.03.23 09:43
Unlike the Qatar World Cup (World Cup) Asian Final Qualifying Group A, which was focused on the 1st place competition between Korea and Iran, the neighboring Group B is still in fierce competition to advance to this tournament.
Only the top two of the three Asian powerhouses, including Japan, which is ranked 23rd in the FIFA rankings, Australia (37th) and Saudi Arabia (53rd), will go straight to the World Cup finals. If you reach 3rd place, you will have an intercontinental playoff on a steep itinerary.
With two games left, Saudi Arabia (19 points) is in first place in Group B, followed by Japan (18 points) and Australia (15 points). The closest to the tournament is Saudi Arabia. After playing against China (5 points) in the neutral United Arab Emirates (UAE) on the 24th, they will play the final match against Australia at home on the 29th. If you beat China, you will be sent to Qatar regardless of the result of the match against Australia.
Japan and Australia are desperate. The results of the match between the two countries in Sydney, Australia on the 24th will make us sad. If Japan wins, it will grab a ticket to this tournament. In the case of a draw or defeat, we have to wait for the result of the final match against Vietnam on the 29th.
On the other hand, home Australia will line up with Japan on points (18) if they win, and Australia will rise to second place in terms of goals. Australia hopes that Saudi Arabia will beat China to win one ticket to the tournament on the premise of winning the match against Japan. Saudi Arabia sees the possibility of losing power in the final match against Australia.
Japan national team coach Hajime Moriyasu traveled around Europe last month to meet 13 local Japanese players one after another. While he checks the condition of the players ahead of the match against Australia, he has time to explain the challenges of Japanese football.
Australia faces Japan with a “new face”. Five Olympic members have been added, including veteran forward Bruno Fornaroli (34) from Uruguay who participated in the Tokyo Olympics (Olympic Games) last year as an overage player. Australia coach Arnold said, “There are high expectations for the main members of the Olympic team who won 2-0 against the powerful Argentina in Tokyo. The match against Japan, which is the biggest match for Qatar, will be a chance to change their soccer life. I hope to be. “
Japan’s strategy is to increase the ball control rate centered on forward Takumi Minamino (27, Liverpool) and control the flow of the game. Australia will strengthen its defense centered on veteran goalkeeper Mathew Ryan (30, Real Sociedad) and play a counterattack. It is expected that it will be a confrontation between the halberd and the shield.
Meanwhile, strong teams will also play in the playoffs of the Qatar World Cup European Qualifier. FW Cristiano Ronaldo (37) and defender Leonardo Bonucci (35), who were teammates in Italy’s prestigious Juventus until last season, will clash between Portugal and Italy, respectively. One of the two countries cannot step on the stage of the World Cup finals. For two star players who are in their mid-30s, this is expected to be their final World Cup challenge. Ronaldo has been on the stage of the World Cup finals four times since 2006, but has nothing to do with the victory. Bonucci has also been represented since 2006, when Italy won the World Cup, and has not won the World Cup.