The latest round of Asian qualifiers on Tuesday could see the world's first qualified side for Brazil 2014, with a victory in Jordan enough to seal Japan's progression to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™. Even a point could secure their fifth consecutive appearance at the global extravaganza, if Australia and Oman share the spoils in Group B's other match.
Elsewhere, Group A pacesetters Uzbekistan entertain bottom Lebanon eager to strengthen their grip on the standings with a home win. Second-placed Korea Republic, meanwhile, welcome Qatar aiming to bounce back from their previous 1-0 loss in Iran. Join FIFA.com as we preview the action across the continent.
Final qualifying round, matchday 7 fixtures
Tuesday 26 March
Group A: Uzbekistan-Lebanon, Korea Republic-Qatar
Group B: Jordan-Japan, Australia-Oman
Alberto Zaccheroni's Japan travel to Amman with their sights firmly set on victory and qualification for Brazil 2014. While the visitors can take heart from their 6-0 home win earlier on in the campaign, the result may be somewhat deceiving as Japan had never done better than 1-1 draws in their three previous meetings.
The Blue Samurai must make do without two key players in Yuto Nagatomo and Keisuke Honda, who netted a hat-trick as they thrashed the Jordanians last time. However, Japan can count on their strength in depth, with either Shinji Kagawa or Kengo Nakamura capable of filling the void left by the CSKA Moscow midfielder.
Shouldering the goalscoring task is Stuttgart forward Shinji Okazaki, who netted in their recent 2-1 friendly victory against Canada.
Languishing at the bottom with four points, Jordan enter the rematch knowing they likely need all three points to keep their qualifying hopes alive. The hosts, under Adnan Hamad, will look to their brilliant home form which saw them conjure up four wins on home soil in the campaign, including upsetting Australia 2-1 last September. Hasan Mahmoud, who opened the scoring in the spirited triumph against the Australians, is likely to miss the showdown through injury.
The other attractions
With Japan the runaway leaders, Group B's second-placed Australia are all too aware they can't afford any slip-ups against Oman if they are to chase the section's second qualifying spot. Leading the Omanis on goal difference and with a game in hand, Holger Osieck's Socceroos can very much boost their hopes with a home win. To provide the team with fresh impetus, the German has named a squad consisting of six A-League players. Paul Le Guen's visitors, for their part, will look to not only Ali Al Habsi's goalkeeping ability but also the goal-scoring form by striking-ace Amad Al Hosni to upstage the hosts.
There is the top versus bottom clash in Group A, with front-runners Uzbekistan entertaining struggling Lebanon. While Mirdjalal Kasimov's hosts will be hoping to strengthen their lead with a third successive win, their recent form suggests otherwise, having lost to United Arab Emirates 2-1 in a 2015 AFC Asian Cup qualifier. Theo Buecker's visitors, conversely, arrive in Tashkent on the back of their 5-2 demolition of Thailand on the same continental stage. However, the Cedars will miss defender Bilal Najarin through injury and captain Roda Antar, who has announced his retirement from international football.
Qatar travel to Korea Republic with a 1-0 defeat to Bahrain in AFC Asian Cup qualifying, a result which ended new boss Fahad Thani's three-match winning streak in charge of the team. Their lack of form will not be helped by the absence of goalkeeper Baba Malick and stirker Jaralla Al Marri through injury. Hosts coach Choi Kanghee, for his part, has chosen a squad mainly consisting K League players, reinforced by a European-based quintet spearheaded by Bolton Wanderers midfielder Lee Chungyong.
Player to watch
Attacking midfielder Lee Keunho was instrumental in their first-leg meeting against Qatar, scoring twice as his side ran out 4-1 winners. His club form is equally good, considering that he helped steered steer Ulsan Hyundai all the way through to last year's AFC Champions League crown.
1 - Uzbekistan and Australia enter the matchday seeking their first home wins, while Lebanon target first three points away.
What they said
"I hope it will be an advantage to play at home, in front of very supportive crowds. From now on we start again, what happened is past and we have a good opportunity. When I look at our upcoming games, no matter who you play you need to play for three points, to get where you want to go," Holger Osieck, Australia coach.