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Socceroos looking for another win against key -

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Socceroos looking for another win against key rival

The World Today - Wednesday, 11 February , 2009 12:55:00

Reporter: Mark Willacy

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Soccer fans have their fingers crossed; tonight Australia take on Japan in
Yokohama, and if the Socceroos win it will almost guarantee them a spot in the World Cup in 2010.

The Japanese want to see the Australians crushed, in revenge for Japan's stunning defeat at the
last World Cup.

But Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek has questioned the mental toughness of the Japanese, hinting they
lack the edge to beat his team.

North Asia correspondent Mark Willacy reports from Tokyo.

(Sound of Japanese news report)

MARK WILLACY: There's nothing Japanese soccer fans would love to see more, than their beloved Blue
Samurais slice through the Socceroos.

Here it's the biggest sports story going, because no-one can forget the humiliation dished out by
Australia at the last World Cup.

(Sound of World Cup match)

Australia's stunning 3-1 World Cup victory over Japan may have been nearly three years ago, but
here the pain of that defeat is still raw.

(Japanese soccer fan speaking)

"They've been stirring us up for a long time," says this fan. "So I'm thinking we're not going to
lose to Australia".

Stirring them up is no understatement.

In the lead-up to this World Cup qualifier Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek was asked by the Japanese
media what he thought about the Blue Samurai holding closed training sessions.

Verbeek replied it showed a lack of confidence, adding that his players can handle pressure.

Japan coach Takeshi Okada has been quoted as saying he wants to shut the Socceroos up, and the man
most likely to do that Shunsuke Nakamura, a star midfielder for Scottish giants Celtic.

(Shunsuke Nakamura speaking)

"We really regret losing to Australia in the World Cup," says Nakamura, "there'll be no repeat of
that this time around," he says.

This is probably Australia's biggest game during the qualifying stages, so the Socceroos are
fielding a side brimming with their European stars.

Out on the streets of Tokyo, this game is seen as a collision between Asia's two top teams.

(Japanese soccer fan 2 speaking)

"I think, as it stands, Australia is stronger," says this Japanese soccer fan. "Japan must approach
this World Cup qualifier as a challenger, not a rival."

But others see the game in less philosophical terms.

(Japanese soccer fan 3 speaking)

"Japan will win, two-nil," predicts this fan.

This is Mark Willacy in Tokyo for The World Today.