John Boultbee (Head of High Performance, Football
This is a group we are looking forward to. Obviously Australia versus Japan will be the blockbuster, and we will be aiming to win both at home and away. It is good for us to be playing Japan in the last game, and this provides us with some advantage, no matter how difficult our situation may end up. The away matches against Qatar and Bahrain won't be a problem for our overseas-based players, as the distance between Europe and West Asia is not that far. Uzbekistan were impressive in the previous stage with their European style which, however, is something which suits us fine.
Kohzo Tashima (General Secretary of Japanese Football
The two groups look equally difficult, but we hope to qualify as one of the top two teams and avoid a playoff, which is very risky. We don't think Australia is our only tough opponent, as Uzbekistan will make it tough for us with their physical play. Qatar went through one of the hardest groups, with Australia, Asian champions Iraq and China, and they have shown their mental strength in tough games, so we can't afford to underestimate them. Bahrain defeated us in a qualifier in the last round, and we can expect the games against them to be tough. But we have our own strengths, and we are confident of going through.
Abdulaziz Al-Ashraf (Member of Bahrain Football Association
Board of Directors)
We are aiming to qualify from this group alongside Australia. Japan and Australia are unquestionably the group favorites, but we won't give up without a fight. In the previous stage we finished runners-up behind Japan, so we don't mind finishing second again this time around, because it means we will book an automatic spot at the World Cup.
Vadim Abramov (Uzbekistan National Team Manager)
The match schedule is not good for us, as we have to play our opening game away against Qatar, while our opponents in the next game, Australia, receive a bye on Matchday 1. I have to say, these two opening games against both of them are crucial for us. I am glad to be facing Australia and Japan, who play European style football. To prepare against them, we will arrange some friendlies with European teams. We know Bahrain and Qatar very well, as we have played against them frequently. We are not afraid to play against any team; every game will be 50-50.