All Whites to play Japan in October

All Whites Chris Wood goes up against Japan's Masato Morishige. Kirin Challenge Cup 2014, Japan v New Zealand, National Olympic Stadium Tokyo, Wednesday 5th March 2014. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Photosport.co.nz

The All Whites international calendar in 2017 is complete with the national team confirming an international friendly against Japan in Nagoya next month.

Anthony Hudson’s team, who defeated the Solomon Islands home (6-1) and drew away (2-2) for a 8-3 win on aggregate to book their place in the Intercontinental Playoff in November, will face the World No 44 Japan on Friday 6 October at Toyota Stadium in Nagoya.

While the All Whites won the OFC Final Stage Playoff, Japan defeated Australia (2-0) in the AFC Stage Three Qualifiers to book their place in the FIFA World Cup in 2018.

Hudson said the fixture, which will be for the Kirin Challenge Cup, would be a great test for his side in their final match before taking on the fifth-ranked South American team for a place at the FIFA World Cup.

“We are really pleased to have this international friendly with Japan confirmed,” said Hudson. “They are a top team and they are a team in form as they have qualified for the World Cup next year – their sixth World Cup in a row which is a great achievement. They are a great team for us to play now that we have qualified for the Intercontinental Playoff in November.

Kosta Barbarouses celebrates his goal.
New Zealand All Whites v Solomon Islands. FIFA World Cup qualifier. QBE Stadium. Auckland, New Zealand. Friday 1 September 2017. © Copyright image: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz

“Coming up against world-class opposition away from home will give us an ideal build-up. We had options for a second game but we want to get our players back to their clubs early to help cope with the heavy schedule we face either side of this window. So this window ticks both boxes for us.”

Listen to audio from an interview with All Whites coach Anthony Hudson on the international friendly with Japan

Japan are one of the most dominant teams in the Asian Football Confederation. They have qualified for the last six consecutive FIFA World Cups and advanced to the second round in 2002 and 2010.

In recent time they have been on a great run in the AFC Stage Three Qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification. They went on a great run winning 10 internationals in a row to be top of Group B. In that run they defeated Thailand (2), Iraq, Oman, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, drew with Australia, Syria and Iraq, and most recently beat Australia 2-0 to secure their place in Russia.  That ended this morning (NZT) when Japan lost to Saudi Arabia (1-0) away from home.

All Whites Ryan Thomas celebrate his goal. 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ Qualifiers – OFC Stage 3 Finals, New Zealand v Solomon Islands, QBE Stadium Auckland, Friday 1st September 2017. Copyright Photo: Shane Wenzlick

The All Whites have a good record against Japan. Throughout their history they have played them five times and won on three occasions – 3-1 (Auckland, 1983), 1-0 (Tokyo, 1983) and 1-0 (Kuala Lumpar, 1984).

The most recent international between New Zealand and Japan was in 2014 in Tokyo where Chris Wood scored twice, but the All Whites went down 4-2.

The details of the All Whites opponent and the fixture for the Intercontinental Playoff are yet to be confirmed.

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