Iraq will lock horns against favorites Japan at the Education City Stadium in their second group-stage match of the 2023 AFC Asian Cup on Friday.
This will be a crucial match for the two teams as both got their campaigns off to a winning start, with Iraq recording a 3-1 win over Indonesia and Japan defeating Vietnam 4-2. The winner of this match will be assured of a place in the knockout round and will likely finish as the Group D toppers.
Iraq, the 2007 champions, opened the scoring in their campaign opener against Indonesia in the 17th minute thanks to Mohanad Ali’s goal. Marselino Ferdinan equalized for Indonesia but goals from Osama Rashid and Aymen Hussein helped them to a comfortable win.
Japan, who won their fourth and last trophy in 2011, saw five goals scored in the first half in their campaign opener against Vietnam. Takumi Minamino produced an impressive performance, with two goals and an assist in the first half. Takefusa Kubo replaced Minamino in the 84th minute and within a minute bagged the assist for Ayase Ueda.