Arab News Japan
TOKYO: Saudi Arabia will face Japan in Jeddah on Thursday in a crucial World Cup qualifying match for the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Japan’s national soccer team coach, Hajime Moriyasu, has called up three new players from the Tokyo Olympic team in a game Japan cannot afford to lose after falling to Oman in their first fixture. If Japan loses to Saudi Arabia tomorrow and Australia on Oct. 12, it will make qualifying for the World Cup extremely difficult.
In an online interview with Nikkan Sports, Moriyasu said, “The Saudi team is very aggressive, so we have to get our tactics right.”
As for the away match, he said, “With many overseas players on the national team, there won’t be as big a time difference in Saudi Arabia, so the burden on the players’ bodies and mentality won’t be as great.”
Midfielder Gaku Shibasaki commented: “Saudi Arabia has excellent technique, mobility and physical ability, which is unique to the Middle East. But as for defense I think there’s a chance. Since it’s an away game, the first goal is the key.”
Unusually, Japan’s away games have disappeared from terrestrial television broadcasts and can be found on the pay channel DAZN, which has signed a long-term contract with the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), which manages broadcasting rights. Only Japan’s home games will be broadcast by one of Japan’s main TV channels, TV Asahi.
Japan fans hoping to see the away games at sports cafes will also be out of luck this time as some have disappeared during the pandemic and restaurants are still being asked to close early.
Japan’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia IWAI Fumio is also excited for the game as he wished both teams luck in a tweet on Thursday.
He said: “May God bless your mornings with all the best… I wish the Japanese and Saudi national teams all the best in today’s match and I look forward to a competitive match that befits the reputation of our two countries. If the Green Falcons win today, I will be the first to congratulate them.”
أسعد الله صباحكم بكل خير وعافية…— Iwai Fumio🇯🇵 (@FumioIwai) October 7, 2021
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