Familiar foes, new targets Asian qualifying

Sunday Japan     vs     Oman    12:30 Uzbekistan     vs     Iran        16:00 Jordan     vs     Iraq        18:00    Lebanon     vs     Qatar    19:30   

Japan     vs     Oman    12:30
Uzbekistan     vs     Iran        16:00
Jordan     vs     Iraq        18:00   
Lebanon     vs     Qatar    19:30   

DOHA - Old rivals meet again as Asia’s final qualifying round for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil kicks off on Sunday. Some familiar rivals take centre stage on matchday 1, with Jordan resuming their battle with Iraq, while Lebanon cross paths with Qatar in an all-west Asian meeting.

Having met six times in the continental qualifying stage, Japan and Oman have once again been thrown together and are battling for the section’s two automatic spots.

Iran and Uzbekistan, of course, are by no means strangers having played each other on more than one occasion. Join FIFA.com as we preview these enticing match-ups.

A pair of west Asia’s most familiar rivals, Group A’s Jordan and Iraq square off in Amman for their ninth FIFA World Cup qualifying encounter and 35th meeting overall.

A traditional continental powerhouse, Iraq proved dominant in their early exchanges, remaining undefeated with an incredible 14 wins from 16 matches. Their invincible aura would last until 1999, when the Jordanians brought a close to the Iraq monopoly with a 2-1 friendly win at home.

From then on, the emerging Hashemite Kingdom have gradually grown into a genuine competitor, edging their opponents with seven wins to six in recent years, including a 2-0 opening triumph in the previous stage, a result which helped them advance to this round for the first time.

Jordan coach Adnan Hamad has called up all his major overseas-based players for the pre-match training camp. The notable fresh inclusion is Romanian-based marksman Thaer Bawab, although midfielder Hassan Fattah is ruled out due to injury.

Furthermore, the hosts enter the game with 2-1 defeat of Lebanon and a 4-0 demolition of Sierra Leone, results which add to the former Iraq coach’s confidence against his native country.

Reaching Asia’s qualifying final round for the first time since 2002, Zico’s Iraq have fixed their sights on a return to the global showpiece.

While a 3-1 defeat from the last meeting helped the side finish group winners, the 2007 Asian champions travel to Jordan in good form having edged Sierra Leone 1-0 before drawing against Botswana 1-1 in the build-up.

The other attractions

Despite an immense geographical distance, Japan and Oman have developed a certain rivalry having played each other eight times over the past decade, including six FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

Coach Alberto Zaccheroni’s hosts welcome the west Asians with a clear mental edge thanks to a record of five wins and three draws, although Paul Le Guen’s visitors are desperate to end the Japanese jinx with a maiden victory.

Fielding an almost entirely European-based line-up, Japan defeated Azerbaijan 2-0 with Shinji Kagawa and Shinji Okazaki on target as they won the recent Kirin Cup.

Oman, despite the absence of Hassan Mudhafar and Hassan Rabia, played out a 1-1 draw with Lebanon in a friendly and are hoping to relive their amazing form which saw them progress at the expense of Saudi Arabia.


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