Preview: Australia v Japan

Group F action kicks-off at the Fritz-Walter Stadion in Kaiserslautern on Monday when Australia take on Japan in a match that sees the Socceroos return to the World Cup after a 32 year absence.

Master and apprentice: Hiddink and Viduka talk tactics

Coach Guus Hiddink may rest key players Harry Kewell and Tim Cahill against Japan as he seeks to find a balance between a competitive formation on the pitch and keeping his players fresh and injury free.

“Timmy has been doing all the practices in the last week, so that’s encouraging and Harry has been participating in the last few training sessions,” Hiddink said at a press conference.

“But I have my doubts about them getting in a full 90 minutes and I will have to think about how I will do that,” he added.

First goal scorer

The Socceroos did not score a goal in their three group matches at the 1974 World Cup making the first goal for Australia in this tournament  – should they score, a historic one. 

Lone Aussie target man Mark Viduka is the likely favourite to score the first goal, but the Middlesbrough striker put team objectives over personal ones with so much at stake in the tournament.

“It would be great if it was me, but it would be great if we won the game and got the three points,” Viduka said.

“We’re going to go out there and play and be competitive.  Everybody is a little nervous and it’s exciting to see the first couple of days of play at the World Cup and to be involved in all of that, I feel proud.”

Asian Champions


Shunsuke Nakamura wants to be
fit, whatever it takes

Current back-to-back Asian Cup champions Japan topped their group at the last World Cup Finals on home soil, but with the unfamiliar surroundings of Germany and without the home support, the Blues could find it tough progressing to the next stage this time around.

However, with Brazilian coach Zico calling the shots and star midfielders Shunsuke Nakamura, Hidetoshi Nakata and Shinji Ono all able to turn a game, Japan will be formidable first up opponents for Australia. 

Nakamura, who plays club football with Celtic missed full training earlier in the week due to a knee injury, but was reasonably confident that the treatment he receives would see him back in time for the opening match.

“I expect to be alright for Australia,” Nakamura told reporters. “The pain should be gone by tomorrow or the next day.

“We’ve got this machine back at the hotel that I will have a go on later,” said Nakamura.

“It doesn’t heat the surface but it apparently heats the deep tissue and spreads rays or whatever so I should be alright.”

Japan will be without first choice right winger Akira Kaji, who is carrying an ankle injury while Kashima Antlers striker Atsushi Yanagisawa and attacking counterpart Naohiro Takahara from Hamburg are also under injury clouds.

It will be a grand occasion in south-west Germany on Monday afternoon and with World Champions Brazil still to come for both teams, a loss here would spell early disaster.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies