Japan to face rivals Australia in 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying

The draw for the fourth round of AFC qualification for the 2014 FIFA World Cup held in Kuala Lumpur on 9 March, with the seedings determined by the latest FIFA rankings issued on 7 March. Japan, whose world ranking fell three places from February’s 30 to 33, found themselves placed in Pot 2 after South Korea’s ranking improved four places to 30.

Japan will face AFC rivals and the confederation’s highest ranked team Australia, who they defeated in the 2011 AFC Asian Cup final. Iraq, Jordan and Oman fill the remaining three positions in Group B. The Samurai Blue’s attempt to qualify for their fifth World Cup in succession will begin at home on 3 June 2012 against Oman, with a further home tie versus Jordan on 8 June before they fly to Australia to face the Socceroos four days later on 12 June.

Japan’s full fixture list is as follows:

3 June 2012 Japan vs Oman
8 June 2012 Japan vs Jordan
12 June 2012 Australia vs Japan
11 September 2012 Japan vs Iraq
14 November 2012 Oman vs Japan
26 March 2013 Jordan vs Japan
4 June 2013 Japan vs Australia
11 June 2013 Iraq vs Japan

The top two teams from both Group A and Group B will automatically advance to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, while the two third-placed teams will enter into the fifth and final round of qualification, facing a play-off to determine the Asian confederation’s last entrant into the tournament.

(Japan defeat South Korea 3-0 on penalty kicks to advance to the 2011 AFC Asian Cup final. The match finished 2-2 after extra-time. South Korea has exacted some revenge by leapfrogging Japan in the latest FIFA World Ranking, thus avoiding the highest seeds Australia in the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification – AFC Fourth Round)

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