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Australia Ready for Crunch Japan Soccer Clash For A Place In Finals

INTERNATIONAL: Australia is confident they can put aside a disrupted build-up to their upcoming World Cup qualifier against Japan and keep alive their hopes of booking an automatic ticket to the finals in Qatar later this year, their assistant head coach said on Wednesday 23rd March.

These are the games that players will be talking about in many years to come," said the Dutchman, who performed coach Graham Arnold's media duties after the latter tested positive for COVID-19 last week. "These are the games that you want to be remembered by."

Victory for Japan at Sydney's Olympic Stadium on Thursday (March 24) would send the Samurai Blue and Saudi Arabia through to Qatar, leaving Australia to negotiate a tricky path through two playoffs if they are to play at a fifth straight final.

 AUSTRALIA ASSISTANT COACH, RENE MEULENSTEEN, SAYING:

"These are the games that players are going to be talking about in many years to come. Those are the games you'd want to be remembered by. And the message for us is play to be remembered. And yes, everybody knows what's at stake, but it’s the excitement and what you can achieve. This will get the players to play at their very, very best, I have absolutely no doubt about it."

 JAPAN HEAD COACH, HAJIME MORIYASU, SAYING:

"The players are focused on the same game plan. We, the national team want to win, we want to be aggressive and put our utmost effort to win. Of course, during the game, as the game goes on, we will need to know how to deal with the situation. But in order to play in the World Cup, we need to achieve victory. That's how we want to play in tomorrow's game."

A draw would leave Japan needing one more point in their final Group B match at home to Vietnam next week to secure a spot in Qatar, but coach Hajime Moriyasu said his side wanted to seal the deal in Sydney.

"The plan is to win, not to draw," Moriyasu told reporters.

PHOTO: JAPAN PLAYERS TRAINING ON SOCCER FIELD / SOUNDBITES FROM JAPAN COACH HAJIME MORIYASU AND AUSTRALIA ASSISTANT COACH RENE MEULENSTEEN


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