Skip to main content

Asian Cup Preview: Iraq v Japan

Japan will face a familiar foe in their second Asian Cup match on Friday, with midfielder Shinji Kagawa wary of the prospective humidity in Brisbane.

Kagawa and Co. will take on Iraq at Suncorp Stadium in their second match in Group D with the temperature expected to reach a maximum of 32 degrees, while the humidity could top 60 per cent.

Having already trained in Queensland's capital, Kagawa is worried about the humidity, which he blames for Japan's poor performances at last year's World Cup.

Japan managed just one point from three games in Brazil, scoring just two goals, with all three of their matches held in the north east of the South American country - in the cities of Recife, Natal and Fortaleza.

"I remember us struggling in this kind of humidity in Brazil," Kagawa told Kyodo News after training on Wednesday.

Japan opened their defence of their continental title with a comfortable 4-0 win over debutants Palestine, although Javier Aguirre's side looked well below their best despite the victory.

Aguirre will surely be expecting a better performance from the 2011 Asian Cup champions in Brisbane, even if the conditions are much different to the match in Newcastle on Monday.

"It is really hard to get used to this heat, especially the humidity like this," Kagawa said.

"You can get exhausted pretty easily and it is not easy to handle."

Kagawa set up one of Japan's goals against Palestine but his Mexican coach wants the Borussia Dortmund playmaker to end his seven-game scoring drought at international level.

"I keep saying it but I have to try and take more shots," he said.

"He (Aguirre) doesn't exactly say 'get more goals than passes' but I am aware I have to shoot more."

Iraq will make their second appearance in Brisbane on Friday having accounted for Jordan 1-0 at Suncorp Stadium earlier in the week.

The match will be a contest between the past two Asian Cup champions, with Iraq having lifted the trophy in 2007, while the winner could secure a berth in the quarter-finals if Jordan and Palestine draw in the earlier game.

Captain Younis Mahmoud was the hero eight years ago, scoring the winning goal in the final, but after a frustrating time up front against Jordan, coach Radhi Shenaishil may be tempted to give the veteran striker more support up front.

According to Opta, Iraq had 429 passes to Jordan's 333 but managed just nine shots to their opponents' 10, with only two on target.

Mahmoud was supported by Alaa Abdul Zahra, Amjed Kalaf and Humam Tariq versus Jordan but Justin Meram came on in the second half for the latter and looked lively, which could earn the Columbus Crew winger a start against the Japanese.