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Asian Cup | Group Stage
Jan 19, 2024 at 11.30am UK
Education City Stadium

2 - 1

Hussein (5', 45+4')
Natiq (15')
FT(HT: 2-0)
Endo (90+3')
Ito (37')

Preview: Iraq vs. Japan - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Iraq vs. Japan - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Friday's Asian Cup clash between Iraq and Japan, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

First place in Group D will be on the line Friday as Iraq and Japan square off on matchday two of the Asian Cup at Education City Stadium.

The Lions of Mesopotamia managed a 3-1 victory over Indonesia in their opener, while the record four-time winners of this tournament were able to fend off a relentless Vietnam side, winning 4-2.

Match preview

It was another promising start to the Asian Cup for Iraq, winning their opening group fixture for the third successive time.

That was also the first triumph of the year for this side, who responded well to an Indonesian equaliser, scoring a late goal in first-half stoppage time to turn the tide in their favour.

Iraq seem to display their best attacking qualities in the group stage of this tournament, netting three or more times in three of their last four Asian Cup group outings.

Jesus Casas has only seen his side suffer one defeat in normal time since the beginning of September, losing in a friendly versus South Korea earlier this year (1-0).

In their Asian Cup history, Iraq have only missed the knockout stage of this tournament once, finishing bottom of their group in 1972.

With a victory on Friday, there is a good chance they will make the knockout stage of this tournament for an eighth successive time, which would also give them the inside track to first place in the group, something this nation has not experienced since the 2007 Asian Cup.

It was an unconvincing 45 minutes for Japan in their opener, but a late flurry of goals to end the half gave them momentum heading into the interval.

The Japanese were in a similar position four years earlier, trailing their opening Asian Cup group fixture in 2019 before scoring three unanswered second-half strikes to defeat Turkmenistan (3-2).

After a difficult opening half versus Vietnam, Hajime Moriyasu saw a much more poised group of players in the second half, controlling the tempo of the match in the final 45 minutes and extending their winning run to 11 matches in all competitions.

Over that run, they have been sensational in the attack, netting four or more goals on 10 occasions, including a combined 20 in their last four games.

You have to go back to the 2011 Asian Cup for the last time the Samurai Blue did not win a group fixture in this competition, playing to a 1-1 draw with Jordan that year, while they have triumphed in 12 straight Asian Cup group matches since then.

The last time they were beaten by Iraq dates back even further, with Japan suffering a 1-0 defeat at the 1982 Asian Games while winning their only two previous Asian Cup encounters against them by a combined score of 5-1.

Iraq Asian Cup form:
  • W

Iraq form (all competitions):
  • D
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • W

Japan Asian Cup form:
  • W

Japan form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W

Team News

We saw just one new face in the Iraq starting 11 against Indonesia, who did not begin their friendly versus South Korea, with Zidane Iqbal coming into the fold in place of Montader Madjed.

Amir Al-Ammari reached 25 caps for the senior side on Sunday, Ibrahim Bayesh can reach 50 if he features in their next two games, while Ali Adnan is now just eight caps shy of 100.

Mohanad Ali netted his 19th international goal for Iraq in their opening fixture, drawing even with Husham Mohammed for 10th all-time and one behind Hawar Mulla Mohammed for ninth, while Osama Rashid and Aymen Hussein also scored.

Brighton and Hove Albion midfielder Kaoru Mitoma missed the opening match for Japan because of an ankle injury, though Moriyasu says that he expects him to be available at some point in the group stage.

Takuma Asano sat out of their opening fixture and remains two caps short of 50, Shogo Taniguchi is halfway towards that mark, collecting his 25th cap on Sunday, Takehiro Tomiyasu is three away from 40 and Zion Suzuki made just his fifth appearance between the sticks.

A first-half brace from Takumi Minamino over the weekend helped Japan regain the momentum of that match, with the Monaco man having now scored 20 goals for the Samurai Blue, while Keito Nakamura notched his fifth international goal and Ayase Ueda rounded out the scoring with his eighth.

Iraq possible starting lineup:
Hassan; H. Ali, Natiq, Adnan, Doski; Rashid, Resan; Bayesh, Jasim, Amyn; M. Ali

Japan possible starting lineup:
Suzuki; Sugawara, Itakura, Taniguchi, H. Ito; Endo, Morita; J. Ito, Minamino, Kubo; Ueda

We say: Iraq 1-3 Japan

It has been quite some time since anyone has figured out how to slow down this dynamic Japanese attack, who continue to score at a torrid pace, and that alone should be more than enough to earn them another victory.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting over 2.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 2.5:data

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