Japan’s male soccer team could take an important step towards qualifying for the 2014 World Cup, which would be their fifth consecutive participation in the tournament, if they win against Oman on Wednesday.
Unbeaten Japan has already picked up 10 points from their first four games in Group B and are five points clear after half of the matches have been played.
If they win their away match with Oman, Japan would open up an eight-point lead for itself and may already begin to make plans for the summer of 2014, the international press comments.
Japan has never lost against Oman in seven previous World Cup qualifiers matches. It won the last game by 3-0 in Saitama, in June, and is looking as the clear favorite now even if Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa will not play because of an injury.
“Don’t forget that the players that have come in to deputise have done a great job,” said the Italian coach of Japan Alberto Zaccheroni. “Kagawa is not here this time, but I’m sure that whoever fills in for him will do well.”
Later update: Japan beat Oman 2-1 and moved closer to clinching a spot in the 2014 World Cup. Japan now leads the group with eight points over Australia, Jordan and Oman, with three matches remaining.