Japan vs Indonesia

A place in the Asian Cup knockouts is on the line as Japan and Indonesia lock horns in a Group D second-place six-pointer at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.

Japan’s quest to land their fifth Asian Cup title and the first since 2011 was off to a flying start as they dismantled Vietnam 4-2 in their opening Group D fixture. However, complacency might have got the better of Hajime Moriyasu’s side in a disheartening 2-1 defeat to Iraq last time out, throwing their hopes of advancing into the knockout stages for the ninth successive tournament into doubt. Avoiding defeat against Indonesia would propel the ‘Samurai Blue’ into the knockouts as group runners-up. But after shutting them out in both previous competitive H2Hs (W1, D1), the Japanese will have a more emphatic result in mind. Adding to this sentiment, they had won 11 consecutive internationals via multiple-goal margins before slumping to the abovementioned reverse to Iraq.

In the meantime, a piece of history is up for grabs after Indonesia bounced back from a 3-1 thumping to Iraq with a spirited 1-0 win against Vietnam in round two. Level on points with Japan, they need to upset the apple cart in Al Rayyan to leapfrog their adversaries in the Group D standings and in turn make it out of the Asian Cup group stages for the first time in the nation’s history. However, it’s a huge ask, not least because of their six-game winless streak preceding the unexpected win against the Vietnamese (D1, L5). Even losing may not end Indonesia’s pursuit of a last-16 berth, though damage limitation is imperative for their bid to progress as one of the best-ranked third-placed teams. Unfortunately, conceding 2+ goals in five of their last seven internationals doesn’t inspire much confidence.

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