Holders Japan face Iraq in first Asian Cup test

Holders Japan face Iraq in first Asian Cup test

Japan will aim to take a giant step towards retaining their Asian Cup title when they face former winners Iraq in their first real test of the tournament on Friday.

The Blue Samurai ran out easy 4-0 winners against debutants Palestine in their opening Group D encounter in Newcastle on Monday, the match at times resembling an exhibition game.

In Brisbane, 2007 champions Iraq overcame Jordan 1-0 and are favourites to finish second in Group D, setting up a quarter-final with arch-rivals Iran or the United Arab Emirates.

Swindon Town midfielder Yaser Kasim, who scored the winner against Jordan and was named man of the match, said Javier Aguirre`s Japan held no fear for his side.

"I look forward to it because I know Japan is a good side, a good passing side," he said, ahead of the game which starts at 7:00 pm (0900 GMT) in Brisbane.

"Whenever I come up against a passing side in England, which is rare, it`s like a chess match and I really enjoy it."

Elsewhere in Group D on Friday, Palestine and Jordan are seeking their first points in Melbourne when they kick off at 6:00 pm (0700 GMT).

It promises to be a tasty affair with Jordan boss Ray Wilkins and the head of the Palestine FA Jibril Al Rajoub engaged in a war of words this week.

Al Rajoub reportedly told Qatari media that Wilkins must have been "intoxicated" when he suggested that whoever won Monday`s opener between Jordan and Iraq would advance to the quarter-finals with Japan.

Jordan are also missing striker Ahmad Hayel, who is being rested after he drank large amounts of water to give a urine sample for a drugs test, and started vomiting and fell ill.

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