Osiek wants top-two finish
THE Socceroos will have to battle jet lag and two Japanese players from the German Bundesliga - both called Shinji - if it is to successfully kick start its 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign in Brisbane tonight.
The Australians have clearly had a more difficult preparation for the match at Suncorp Stadium, having played against Denmark in Copenhagen 10 days ago before playing a 0-0 draw against Oman in the UAE in 43 degree heat on Friday night.
Japan on the other hand has played its two most recent matches at home, pocketing maximum points from a 3-0 win against Oman and a 6-0 win against Jordan on Friday night.
Australian coach Holger Osiek said despite that, his team was ready to show it was capable of finishing in the top two in its group and earning a place in the World Cup to be held in Rio de Janiero.
"We have a very strong team and a very strong mentality," Osiek said. "They (Japan) look pretty strong ... when you win two games you are full of confidence. But we're going to show we are a top team."
Since Australia's famous 3-1 win against the Blue Samurai in Kaiserslauten in the 2006 World Cup, the teams have played each other five times for two wins each and a draw.
The most recent clash was in last year's Asian Cup final when the scores were level at the end of normal time before Japan went on to win 1-0 in extra-time.
After being unable to convert numerous chances against Oman, Australia will need to take its opportunities if it is to get any points out of tonight's clash.
Osiek rested the dangerous Tim Cahill and Josh Kennedy against Oman with one eye clearly on the game against Japan.
Kennedy's height could pose problems for the Japanese defence, especially with central defender Maya Yoshida injuring his knee late against Jordan.
Keisuke Honda scored a hat-trick against Jordan, but he is not the only weapon at coach Alberto Zaccheroni's disposal.
New Manchester United signing Shinji Kagawa also scored against Jordan, while Socceroos defender Sasa Ogenovski will need to shut down centre forward Shinji Okazaki.
Kagawa links well in midfield with Honda, Yasuhito Endo and Makoto Hasebe and the Socceroos will need strong efforts from the likes of Mile Jedinak and Marco Bresciano.
While the odds appear to favour the Japanese, skipper Lucas Neill said his team would go into the match confident of a win.
"They're the No 1 team in Asia because they beat us in the game that counted, the Asian Cup final," Neill said. "But in our minds we don't believe we're second best."
The game starts at 8pm.