AFC - Former AFC Asian Cup champions Japan and Iran will meet in an international friendly in Tehran on October 13, as the continental powerhouses face off against one another for the first in a decade.
The friendly at the Azadi Stadium in the Iranian capital sees the teams renew acquaintances having last met in 2005 during the qualifying campaign for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, with Japan winning 2-1 in Yokohama five months after Iran had won by an identical score line in Tehran (pictured).
With Japan set to be in the Middle East for their 2018 FIFA World Cup/2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifier against Syria on October 8 before having a break as the four other teams continue their campaign on October 13, Samurai Blue boss Vahid Halihodzic feels it is the perfect opportunity to test his side against a high-calibre opponent.
“We have not analysed Iran that much yet but I remember they gave a great performance at last year’s World Cup,” Halihodzic, who led Algeria to the Round of 16 at Brazil 2014, told the JFA’S (Japan Football Association’s) official website.
“We would like to strengthen our team capitalising on an opportunity like this.”
Halihodzic,who also had a spell with Saudi Arabian giants Al Ittihad, is well aware of the passion of the Iranian supporters and adds that a trip to the Azadi will prepare his players well for tough away games in the future.
“I heard that many fans come to the stadium when Iran plays in Iran so I think it will be a good test to play in front of a huge crowd away for our qualifying games that will be coming up soon.”
Japan resume their joint-qualifying campaign on September 3 when they host Cambodia, with the four-time AFC Asian Cup winners expected to be at full strength after Halihodzic led an experimental side of fringe players to a fourth-place finish at the 2015 EAFF (East Asian Football Federation) East Asian Cup, while Iran will be looking to bounce back from their opening Group B draw against Turkmenistan when they host undefeated Guam on the same day.
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