Australia captain Lucas Neill - AFP
 
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Neill: Australia, Japan will qualify

Neill: Australia, Japan will qualify

By Reuters
Last update The 13/06/2012 at 05:36 -
By Reuters - The 13/06/2012 at 05:36
Socceroos captain Lucas Neill is certain Australia will be at the 2014 World Cup finals despite taking just two points from their first two matches in the fourth and final round of Asian qualifying.
 

Australia, who were held to a goalless draw in Oman last Friday, came from behind to draw 1-1 with fellow Asian zone powerhouse Japan in Brisbane on Tuesday in an entertaining match studded with bizarre refereeing decisions.

Neill was encouraged by his team's response to losing Mark Milligan to a second yellow card in the 56th minute and predicted that the Socceroos and Blue Samurai would finish in the top two positions in Group B and qualify for Brazil.

"If Japan keep beating their opposition and we keep beating ours, then we'll both be on our way to Brazil," he said.

"We showed what we were all about and I'm sure we'll go on and win plenty of games and make sure when we come home we don't lose.

"We'll be there."

Japan will be far more confident about securing a fifth successive appearance at the World Cup finals after opening the fourth round of qualifying with a 3-0 win over Oman and a 6-0 thrashing of Jordan.

The Asian champions sit top of the Group B with seven points from three games, five ahead of Australia and Iraq, who both have two points after two games.

Oman have two points from three games while Jordan are bottom with one point from two matches.

"We play to win and we dropped points today, but I think we deserve seven points from these three games," said Japan's Italian coach Alberto Zaccheroni.

"The seven points are important but what's more important is the process we went through to gain these seven points."

Japan took the lead at Lang Park through Yuzo Kurihara eight minutes after Milligan's dismissal, a decision described as "beyond my comprehension" by Australia coach Holger Osieck.

Australia were the recipients of Saudi referee Khalil Al Ghamdi's largesse in the 69th minute, however, and Luke Wilkshire equalised from the penalty spot when Japan were penalised for an innocuous challenge at a corner.

Osieck said the grit and spirit his team showed in battling back despite being a man down had sent out a message to Japan and the other teams in the group.

"With one man less it was a blow against us as the Japanese midfield move the ball well and are excellent technically, but my team really resisted and played through it," the German told reporters.

"Japan have seven points but we will get our points and I think it sent some kind of message not just to Japan but also to the other teams as well," he added.

Australia's next chance to drive home that message will be in Jordan on September 11, the same day as Japan host Iraq in their fourth qualifier.

 
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