Graham Arnold’s Socceroos won their 11th qualifier in a row with a 3-1 victory over Oman last week, which is the most consecutive games won by a country in a single campaign. Granted, teams in Asia play a greater number of qualifiers to other parts of the world, but Australia are in fine form, sitting joint top of their group on nine points alongside Saudi Arabia.
The top two go automatically into Qatar 2022, which makes Japan’s situation perilous. They trail the Australians and the Saudis by six points already, having lost 1-0 in Jeddah last week but, perhaps more harmfully, going down at home to Oman last month.
Japan manager Hajime Moriyasu is under real pressure to get a win over Australia and is likely to turn to a Celtic forward to get him out of trouble. Kyogo Furuhashi was used from the bench against Saudi Arabia but, with a win so vital, the 26-year-old is tipped to start in attack.
Furuhashi believes he has developed since coming to Scotland and can use his agility against a backline similar to what he comes up against in the cinch Premiership.
“[Physicality] is a feature [of Scottish football], so I use my movement to outsmart the opponent,” said Furuhashi.
“I hate it if I can’t continue a run, and there are some players who are good at lowering the opponent's line and receiving it in the space.
"What you can do is run in the offence and defence, and in attacks you can create space by continuing to move aiming for space and get closer to the goal.
"I think that going from the front to the pressure will give the team a good chance."
Australia, however, are a tough nut to crack. They have their own Celtic player in Tom Rogic, who recently hit the 50-cap mark, but their talisman is Hibs forward Martin Boyle. He is the new darling of the Australia support and, right now, is the more likely of the two Premiership forwards to be in Qatar next winter.