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Socceroos aiming for 12 wins in a row in clash with Japan

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Socceroos coach Graham Arnold has expressed sympathy for his Japan counterpart and former teammate Hajime Moriyasu, who is facing the sack if Australia beats the Samurai Blue on Tuesday night in Saitama.

The Socceroos are high on confidence as they aim to extend their record for successive wins in a single FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign to 12.

In contrast, Japan has lost two of its past three matches and already sits six points behind leaders Australia in Group B in the third round of Asian Football Confederation qualifiers for next year’s World Cup in Qatar.

Japan is six points second-placed Saudi Arabia, with only the top teams from Groups A and B automatically qualifying for the World Cup.

Reports out of Japan have suggested the job of Moriyasu, who was a teammate of Arnold’s at Sanfrecce Hiroshima in 1997 and 1998, is on the line.

“It just shows you how fickle coaching is,” Arnold said.

“He’s a fantastic guy … Moriyasu’s done a great job with Japan (but) a couple of losses, and that’s (what) the situation of coaching can be.

“It’s exactly the same for me. That’s why I’m just enjoying one game at a time, one camp at a time and enjoying what I’m doing at the moment.”

Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu is under pressure. Picture: AFP
Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu is under pressure. Picture: AFPSource: AFP

Japan’s recent losses to Oman and Saudi Arabia haven’t surprised Arnold, who is well aware of the recent overall improvements to the standards of Asian football.

“There’s a lot of people that underestimate the quality of a lot of the Asian sides. Every game, you have to be fully focused and you have to be fully ready,” he said.

“You can’t take any opposition lightly at all and for me, that’s what I’ve been driving here with the boys – it’s one game at a time, don’t look beyond, forget the past quickly and be ready for the next game because every team has strengths in Asia.”

Arnold is set to make a couple of changes to the starting team behind Australia’s 3-1 win over Oman in Doha last Friday morning.

“There will be a couple of fresh-leg changes for this game. We’ve got to keep that energy up and the boys who have recovered really well that played the other night will play, (while) the ones who (have recovered) little bit less, we’ll probably make a few fresh-leg changes (for them),” he said.

Graham Arnold is happy with the contribution of Adam Taggart (right) despite the striker’s recent lack of international goals. Picture: Mohamed Farag / Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Whether that means a change in attack is unknown, but Arnold still has plenty of faith in striker Adam Taggart, who unlike fellow attackers Martin Boyle, Awer Mabil and Mitch Duke, is finding it tough to score.

“I’m very happy with him,” Arnold said of the Japan-based former Perth Glory, Newcastle Jets and Brisbane Roar marksman.

“I’ve had a couple of conversations with him. Sometimes he gets himself in a way that it’s all about the goalscoring side of it.

“For me, it’s not. If you have a number nine (centre-forward) who is working hard for the team, is the first line of defence, is making assists, helping with the combination play in and around the penalty box and leading by example up front, then in my view he’s doing a fantastic job.”

Matchday 4: Japan v Australia

Tuesday, October 12

Saitama Stadium, Saitama, Japan

Kick-off: 9.14pm (AEDT)

Broadcast: Live on 10 Bold and 10 Play – pre-game coverage from 8.30pm (AEDT)

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England boss Gareth Southgate warns English managers as Newcastle set to sack Steve Bruce

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Gareth Southgate has offered some advice to English managers.

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European qualifiers results, latest news, Germany book spot to Qatar, Belgium, Wales

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A Timo Werner double has helped Germany stamp their ticket for the 2022 World Cup with a 4-0 win over North Macedonia, but Belgium will have to wait until next month after Wales carved out a narrow win in Estonia.

Hansi Flick’s men avenged a shock 2-1 home loss to the Macedonians earlier this year to claim their seventh win in eight qualifiers and take an unassailable eight-point lead at the top of Group J, with two matches remaining.

“We now have five wins from five this season,” Germany coach Hansi Flick told RTL.

“You have to compliment the team on their attitude. Of course, the first half was a bit wild, but we can be happy that we won and qualified.”

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France crowned Nations League champions | 02:26

Germany went into their match in Skopje knowing that they could secure their passage if they won and Armenia failed to beat Romania.

After a goalless first half, Kai Havertz broke the deadlock five minutes after the interval before Chelsea’s Werner struck twice in three minutes to clinch the tie for the Germans.

His first came on 70 minutes when Thomas Mueller, who had teed up Havertz, flicked the ball into the path of Werner who crashed the ball past Stole Dimitrievski in the Macedonian goal.

Three minutes later, substitute Florian Wirtz got the touch through for Werner to curl his shot past Dimitrievski and chalk up his fifth goal in his last five qualifiers.

Jamal Musiala, 18 years and 227 days old, rounded things off with his first goal in international football, becoming the youngest person to score for Germany since Marius Hiller, then 17, scored against Switzerland in 1910.

More importantly, Musiala sealed the win that sees the Germans become the first team, other than hosts Qatar, to qualify for the 2022 finals.

The second part of the bargain which secured their place in Qatar in 2022 came in Bucharest where Alexandru Mitrita’s goal on 26 minutes gave Romania a 1-0 win at home against the Armenians.

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WALES MAKE BELGIANS WAIT

Kieffer Moore’s early goal in Tallinn gave Wales a slender 1-0 win over Estonia which keeps their hopes alive of catching Group E leaders Belgium, who were not in action after their involvement in the Nations League finals.

Wales are five points behind Belgium with two games to play and can still claim top spot and automatic qualification.

The Czech Republic won 2-0 in Belarus to remain in the running for second place in the group. They are level on points with the Welsh but have played one match more.

Wales are all but certain to drop into the playoffs even if they finish below the Czechs, courtesy of winning their 2020-21 Nations League group.

“It was one of those performances we needed to dig in and grind out a result,” said Wales captain Aaron Ramsey.

“It was just important to come here and get the three points. We’ve managed to do that and now we can prepare for the games in November. It’s all in our hands.” Russia and Croatia guaranteed themselves a top-two finish in Group H but top spot remains open.

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First-half goals from Igor Diveev and Georgi Dzhikiya gave the Russians a 2-0 cushion in Slovenia and, in spite of Josip Ilicic’s strike just before half-time, the visitors held on to claim the three points.

Russia are two points ahead of Croatia who needed Luka Modric’s 71st-minute equaliser to claim a 2-2 draw at home to Slovakia.

The Russians can secure their qualification when they travel to Croatia on November 14.

Memphis Depay scored twice for the Netherlands as they thrashed Gibraltar 6-0. The Dutch, who missed the 2018 World Cup, top Group G but Burak Yilmaz’s 99th-minute penalty which gave Turkey a 2-1 win in Latvia means they must wait until next month to secure a top-two finish.

Norway, without the injured Erling Haaland, are two points behind the Netherlands in second place after beating Montenegro 2-0.

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Mason Mount has Chelsea trophy aim as England star under new pressure due to Ballon d'Or

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Mason Mount wants to win more big trophies with Chelsea and England.

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