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Nakamura is ready for ugly Aussie duel

THE last time Japan and Australia met in World Cup competition, the Socceroos scored three goals in the last nine minutes for a pivotal 3-1 win in a group stage match at Germany 2006.

With Australia joining the Asian confederation, a World Cup qualifier between the two regional heavyweights has been looming.

Japan has home advantage in the first one, hosting Australia at Yokohama tonight in a match between the two leading teams in Group 1 in the fourth round of Asian qualifying.

Glasgow Celtic midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura, one of five Europe-based players on the Japan team, was involved in the 2006 World Cup group loss to Australia and is determined to avenge that.

"We'll never repeat the same mistake," Nakamura said. "I don't mind if we have to get ugly. We'll go for three points for a win," Nakamura said. "I don't think we can stick to a beautiful formula ... We need to care about the small details."


Everton midfielder Tim Cahill, who scored twice in that World Cup win after entering the match as a substitute, will be hunting for more goals against the Japanese and could come into calculations as a striker with Harry Kewell sidelined. But he's more concerned about Australia getting a point than scoring a goal himself.

Australia leads Group 1 with a perfect nine points from three wins, two points clear of Japan, five ahead of Qatar and eight clear of Uzbekistan and Bahrain.

"We want to get to the World Cup, but so do Japan and this will be the hardest game of our campaign," Cahill said. "Complacency and arrogance doesn't come into the same sentence as us. We will take any sort of points in a situation like this."

The full Australian squad only assembled on the eve of the match, with five players, including skipper Lucas Neill, still flying in from Europe when the first formal practice session was held on Monday.

Japan, which knocked Australia out of the 2007 Asian Cup on penalties after its quarterfinal match ended 1-1, had at least five days together with the full squad.


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