While most teams who are fitting in a friendly before the World Cup are facing opponents not at the tournament, or geographically close, Japan and Canada have decided to get straight to the point and face a fellow participant. Interestingly this could be a last 16 tie should Japan win Group E and Canada finish second in Group F, or if Japan are runners up and Canada group winners.
After securing their spot at the World Cup earlier this year, Japan have been going heavy with the friendlies, taking on a variety of opponents. They have faced the likes of Paraguay, Brazil, Ghana, Tunisia, United States and Ecuador in the guise of the Kirin Challenge Cup and Kirin Cup. Across their 13 games this year, Japan have lost just twice, to Brazil and Tunisia, only beaten 1-0 by the World Cup favourites.
Canada, meanwhile, have had a rocky year even though they also secured their spot at the World Cup by finishing top of their Concacaf qualifying group. After finishing qualifying with a 1-0 defeat to Panama, when their spot was already secured, Canada turned their attention to the Concacaf Nations League. In their first game they beat Curacao 4-0 but were brought immediately back down to earth in a 2-1 defeat to Honduras.
In the most recent international break, Canada beat Qatar and then lost to Uruguay, and they have already played one pre-World Cup friendly. Taking on a team close in proximity to Qatar, Canada drew 2-2 with Bahrain, having the rescue the draw thanks to a late own goal. And now, in this final match, Canada and Japan test themselves in Dubai in the neighbouring UAE.
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Japan vs Canada match stats
As mentioned, Canada haven’t been in good form this year, while Japan have. However, Canada have found the net in eight of their 11 matches this year and they will need to do well to beat a tough Japanese defence that has kept five consecutive clean sheets.
With friendlies it can be hard to tell who is going to play, especially when players are joining up very close to the match. But one man who should be in line to feature for Japan is Shuto Machino. The striker plays his football in the J1 League for Shonan Bellmare and scored 13 goals in 30 games across the 2022 campaign including four in his last three ahead of the World Cup. Machino has also scored three goals in four games for Japan since making his debut earlier this year.