Japan vs Iraq
World Cup Qualifier – Asian Qualifier
Date: Thursday, 6th October 2016
Kick-off: 11:35 UK
Venue: Saitama Stadium (Saitama).

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Japan got back to winning ways with a 2-0 win at Thailand after the shocking defeat to UAE at home in the opening match of the third group stage. However, they are still short of their usual best and head-coach Vahid Halilhodzic will be keen for a much improved performance when they host Iraq on Thursday, 6th October 2016. The Samurai Blues were unbeaten in their 8 matches in the second round of qualifiers, keeping clean sheet in all matches. And their defeat to UAE was their first in home soil since August 2013.

Iraq have lost in each of their first two matches of the third round of qualifiers. They were defeated by Australia 2-0 away from home on the opening day. And then to Saudi Arabia 2-1 by conceding two late goals. Iraq finished behind Thailand in the second round qualification group and reached to the final round as one of the best runner-ups. They were unbeaten though, with 3 and 3 draws.

Japan vs Iraq: Head-to-Head Stats

Japan are unbeaten in the last 7 meetings with Iraq, with the last 6 being wins. It is also interesting to know that Iraq haven’t scored in the last 5 matches against Japan.

Their latest meeting was in a friendly on June 2015, which finished in a 4-0 win for the hosts at the Nissan Stadium in Yokohama. Both Keisuke Honda and Shinji Okazaki were on the score-sheet then.

Japan and Iraq also met during the third stage of 2014 World Cup qualifiers, with both legs ending in the same 1-0 wins for Japan.

Japan vs Iraq: Prediction

Japan are strong favourites to win this fixture based on their strong record in Asia and the quality of players in their squad. They have some ground to clear following the defeat to UAE in the opening fixture and are well aware that they cannot drop any more points, especially at home. And Iraq are a side not in good shape after losing two matches in a row. Their confidence will be low and are also win-less against Japan in the previous 7 meetings. The hosts must win this and are very likely to keep a clean-sheet.

Keisuke Honda is the player who pulls all the strings from midfield for the Samurais. He has already scored 7 goals in the qualifiers and is a notable threat from set-pieces. It is a good option to back him to score any-time during the game.

Correct Score Prediction: Japan 2-0 Iraq at 5.50 (9/2).

Japan vs Iraq: Bet Tips

Japan to win first half at 1.83 (5/6)
Keisuke Honda to score any-time.