Since joining the Asian Football Confederation, the Qantas Socceroos have taken on Japan five times – and we’ve had some of the most dramatic games in our international history
Since joining the Asian Football Confederation, the Qantas Socceroos have taken on Japan five times - and we-ve had some of the most dramatic games in our international history.
When the Qantas Socceroos finally sealed their place in Asia, the aim was to improve our standards by testing ourselves against the best footballing nations in the region - and Japan have always been top of that list.
The Qantas Socceroos have faced the Blue Samurai 19 times over the years, and the results are even, with five draws and seven wins apiece. Even the last five games are equal - two wins each and one draw.
After qualifying through Oceania for the 2006 FIFA World Cup game, our opening match against Japan was one of the Qantas Socceroos most memorable - and momentous games.
One-nil down in their first FIFA World Cup finals game since 1974, the dramatic comeback in Kaiserslautern captured the imagination of the nation, as Tim Cahill and John Aloisi gave the green and gold an unforgettable 3-1 victory.
But Japan can claim more important victories since that afternoon in Germany.
First, there was the quarter-final of the AFC Asian Cup 2007 in Hanoi. Locked at 1-1 after extra-time, missed penalties from Harry Kewell and Lucas Neill saw the Qantas Socceroos eliminated after the dreaded shootout.
The next time the two met was in qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. The Qantas Socceroos gained a valuable point first up, with a hard-fought 0-0 draw in Yokohama in February, 2009.
Four months later, Japan came to Melbourne, with both sides already having sealed their spot in the 2010 finals. Japan went ahead through Tulio Tanaka - the first goal Australia had conceded in the qualification campaign - but two goals from the talismanic Tim Cahill gave the Qantas Socceroos the win.
But Japan once again claimed bragging rights, in the AFC Asian Cup 2011 final. The Qantas Socceroos were looking to claim their first major piece of international silverware, but as the engrossing game stretched into extra-time, substitute Tadanari Lee volleyed past Mark Schwarzer in the 109th minute to break Australian hearts.
Aussie fans can hope that our record against Japan in the FIFA World Cup remains positive - and hope to extract some measure of revenge for that shattering Asian Cup loss - by taking first blood in the battle to claim top spot on the road to Brazil.
12/06/2006 Kaiserslautern Australia 3:1 (0:1)
21/07/2007 Hanoi Japan 1:1 a.e.t. (1:1, 0:0) 4:3 PSO
11/02/2009 Yokohama 0-0
17/06/2009 Melbourne Australia 2:1 (0:1)
29/01/2011 Doha Japan 1:0 a.e.t.
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