Asian Cup preview: Japan v Jordan
There is more than pride on the line for Jordan and Iraq, with both nations playing for second spot in the group behind runaway leaders Japan. But Jordan faces the sterner task in their game against the Samurai Blue.
Head to head
The two nations have met on four occasions. Japan hold the advantage with two wins including a 6-0 thrashing in 2012. But Jordan triumphed in their last encounter during World Cup qualification in Amman 2-1 so they won’t hold much fear against their highly-fancied opponents. For those looking for an omen, both previous Asian Cups clashes between these two sides ended 1-1.
The big issue
Stopping the three-headed monster in attack - Okazaki, Honda and Kagawa. Japan are looking to put a stamp on the tournament after an expected victory over Palestine and tougher than thought win over Iraq. A two or three goal score line against Jordan will send a strong message ahead of their quarter final against the UAE.
Jordan have momentum going into the match after a 5-1 drubbing of Palestine, but they will need all their attacking movement and pressing which opened up The Knights with alarming regularity throughout the 90 minutes.
Players to watch
Jordan’s Hamza Al Dardour put himself in the record books, scoring the first hat-trick of the 2015 Asian Cup before adding another to become only the fourth player in the history of the tournament to net four goals in a single game.
It was a welcome change for Jordan, who struggled in their opening group game to mount attacking raids on the Iraqi goal. Al Dardour’s forward play and enthusiasm, combined with his guile, will hold the key to unlocking the Japanese defence.
The player to watch for Japan is Southampton defender Maya Yoshida. He scored a headed goal in their rout of Palestine. He will be tasked with leading their defensive line against a Jordanian outfit brimming with confidence after their own dismantling of The Knights. If he can marshal his troops and thwart some early attacking forays then it may dampen their confidence and go a long way to victory for Japan.
The opening half an hour will be a cagey contest with Jordan trying to force the issue on a Japanese side that will be happy to sit back and counter. If Japan can weather the initial storm it will be a simple 2-0 victory to the reigning Asian Cup champions.