Japan v Jordan: Yoshida wants improved officiating
Japan defender Maya Yoshida is hoping for improved officiating when his side battle Jordan in Melbourne on Tuesday.
Yoshida was one of a number of Japan players to defend Keisuke Honda after the star midfielder was hit with a AUD$5000 fine for critical comments about refereeing in his side's 4-0 win over Palestine last week.
Honda felt the match was controlled "like a basketball game" and Yoshida agreed with his view, telling Kyodo News that the officiating had been too overzealous so far.
"Of course there are times when we players, we have to call for improvements, and to be honest, I am shocked at the amount of fine he has been given," he said.
"The kind of fouls we have seen given at this tournament wouldn't be given in an [non-Asian] international match.
"They certainly would not have been given in Germany, or Italy or England.
"When we played four years ago [at the Asian Cup] I was not comfortable because every single tackle or body contact would be a foul every time.
"It does nothing to help Asian football because the playing time is shorter than European football.
"That is not only because of delays in the game but also because of the referees. I want to play an exciting game and fans too, want to see an exciting game."
Gripes with refereeing aside, the 54th-ranked Japan have made a positive start to the tournament despite match-fixing accusations hanging over the head of coach Javier Aguirre.
The defending champions started with a 4-0 win over Palestine and followed up with a 1-0 triumph against Iraq on Friday.
Veteran midfielder Yasuhito Endo starred against the Iraqis, in his 150th national appearance, and Honda - who has scored two penalties so far - also looks in good touch. They do need more from Borussia Dortmund's Shinji Kagawa in midfield, though.
Japan will be without Yasuyuki Konno, who injured his left hamstring against Iraq.
Those two victories have Japan on top of Group D, three points ahead of Jordan.
A draw will be enough for Japan to qualify for the quarter-finals, while Jordan's progression will also depend on the other Group D clash on Tuesday - which sees Iraq meet Palestine.
Jordan are fresh off a 5-1 win over Palestine, also in Melbourne, with Hamza Al Dardour scoring four of them.
Al Dardour and winger Odai Al Saify, appear key to Jordan's chances.
Managed by ex-England midfielder Ray Wilkins, Jordan beat Japan the last time the two sides met.
Then coached by Adnan Hamad, Jordan beat Japan 2-1 in a World Cup qualifier in March 2013 in Amman.