Football Tribe SEA Editor
Takuma Asano and Daichi Kamada were recalled into the Samurai Blue squad by manager Hajime Moriyasu. The two were the only new additions to the Japan squad after their last qualifying match, a 2-0 win in Yangon over Myanmar. Alongside Kensuke Nagai, Asano and Kamada were tasked in filling the boots of the injured Yuya Osako in the Japanese attack. Other than Osako’s absence and the addition of Asano and Kamada, the Japanese squad taking on Mongolia is pretty much similar to the squad that defeated Myanmar last time out.
Despite being the minnows of their group, Mongolia have so far punched above their weight. They’re now third in the group after 2 games, with a win against Myanmar and a defeat against group leaders Tajikistan. However, the match against group favorites Japan will become Mongolia’s biggest test yet. Considering the significant gap of quality between the two squads, a draw at Saitama against the Asian giants will be nothing short of a miracle for the Mongolians.
Player to Watch – Takumi Minamino, Winger, Age 24: Despite sitting on the bench for Red Bull Salzburg in their last two domestic matches, Minamino has been impressive whenever he’s being called upon. He scored one and assisted another as Salzburg were narrowly defeated 4-3 by Liverpool at Anfield in the Champions League last week, causing Liverpool fans to urge Jurgen Klopp to actually sign the Japanese winger. With Samurai Blue, Minamino has scored in Japan’s last two matches, and Moriyasu will be counting on the 24-year old to show his worth again in supporting the Japanese attack against Mongolia.
Barring a huge shock, I could guarantee that Japan have this match in the bag. It’s a literal David vs Goliath matchup here and sadly the quality gap between the two nations is too vast. I’m predicting a comprehensive win for Japan, at least by a 3-goal margin, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Japan completely obliterates Mongolia in this match.