Japan may never have a better opportunity to bring Asia’s woeful World Cup record against South American opposition to an end than when they face Paraguay in the second round in Pretoria.
No Asian team have ever beaten a South American side at the World Cup. Of the 10 encounters between the continents, South America have won eight times with two games drawn -- North Korea v Chile 1-1 in 1966 and South Korea vs Bolivia 0-0 in 1994.
However, Japan’s flying form in the group stage this time around makes them strong candidates to break that jinx and qualify for the quarter-finals for the first time.
While Paraguay topped a group that included world champions Italy, Slovakia and New Zealand they have rarely shown the attacking verve expected of a team featuring top-class forwards Roque Santa Cruz, Lucas Barrios and Nelson Valdez.