Mile Jedinak Australia
Mile Jedinak and Australia will know the importance of beating Japan in this World Cup qualifierReuters

Australia and Japan battle it out in a FIFA World Cup qualifier that could have a huge bearing on which team finishes top of Group B. With just a point separating the top four teams in the group, it is winning big games like this which could decide who seals an automatic spot in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The Socceroos will know, being the home team – the match will be played in Melbourne – the onus will be on them to make the running and gun for all three points. So, it will be interesting to see how Ange Postecoglou sets his side up against the dangerous Japan.

"I think there's a mutual respect there between the two nations, an admiration," Postecoglou said. "When I look at the players that are going to take the field I see a high-quality game and a game that's going to excite the supporters."

Australia have a pretty good record against Japan, having gone unbeaten against the Blue Samurai in six World Cup qualifiers since their move to the AFC. Two of them have been wins, and Australia will hope to make it three in seven.

One player who could help Australia do just that is the evergreen Tim Cahill, who continues to score goals, goals and more goals for his country, even at the age of 36.

"He has got a track record against Japan but I think I said that he's got a strong track record against most nations," Postecoglou said of Cahill, who has scored five goals in eight matches against Japan. "There haven't been many he hasn't scored against."

Cahill, though, hasn't started a game yet in this round of World Cup qualifiers and while he is expected to again be on the bench for the Japan match, there will come a point when the veteran is brought on.

"From our perspective he's still a very important part of the setup," the Australia manager added. "Whether he starts, we'll assess today (Monday). It's always important to know from our perspective that we know how physically demanding these games are and he hasn't played a lot of football recently.

"The A-League has only just begun, but he's in great condition. He just lacks some match conditioning. If he doesn't start for sure he'll play an important part of the game at some point and we've seen that in later parts of games."

Japan, who are a point behind leaders Australia and Saudi Arabia, are playing catch-up a little after their opening loss to the UAE. While they have picked up two wins in two matches since, Vahid Halilhodzic's men will be aware of not dropping too many more points if they are to make it to another World Cup.

"We'll go with courage," Halilhodzic, who could be without Leicester City striker Shinji Okazaki, said. "I will not be telling you we lack this, we lack that.

"We are in a difficult situation but mentally maybe we will be better. We play against the Asian champions, the best team in Asia and we are very motivated. Each player is thinking to win this game."

Where to Watch Live

Australia vs Iraq is set to begin at 8pm AEDT (2.30pm IST, 6pm Japan tim, 10am BST). Live Streaming and TV information is below.

India: No live coverage.

Australia: TV: Channel Nine, Fox Sports 4. Live Streaming: Foxtel.

Japan: TV: NHK and TV Asahi.

Middle East: TV: Bein Sports Arabia. Live Streaming: Bein Sports Connect.

USA: TV: ESPN3. Live Streaming: Watch ESPN.

SouthEast Asia: TV: Fox Sports.

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