Japan Becomes The Fourth Nation To Qualify For The World Cup
Japan joined hosts Russia, Brazil and fellow AFC side Iran as the only countries to have booked their places at next summer’s World Cup finals after defeating Australia 2-0 in front of over 60,000 delirious supporters. This will be Japan’s sixth straight World Cup finals appearance.
Takuma Asano gave the Samurai Blue the lead in the 41st minute, and 21-year-old midfielder Yosuke Ideguchi secured the victory with this stunning goal in the 82nd. With only one matchday remaining in AFC qualifying, Australia’s road to Russia just got a lot more complicated.
The Socceroos will host Thailand on September 5th, and they’ll need to win and win comprehensively if they want to overcome Saudi Arabia and earn automatic qualification.
Should they fail, they’d need to navigate a playoff against either South Korea, Syria or Uzbekistan before another two-legged playoff against a CONCACAF nation. You can see why they’d want to avoid that hellish route.
But for the likes of Japan's Keisuke Honda, Maya Yoshida, Shinji Kagawa and Shinji Okazaki, the night will be famously remembered.