22 hours ago Match Previews
The final day of round of 16 fixtures at the Asian Cup will begin with Bahrain taking on Japan on Wednesday at Al Thumama Stadium.
Bahrain finished top of Group E with six points, while Japan finished second in Group D despite their 3-1 win over Indonesia.
After a tough loss to South Korea, Bahrain bounced back nicely, winning their final two matches by a 1-0 score and finishing at the top of their group for the first time in this competition.
This is only Bahrain’s third appearance in the knockout stage of this tournament, and they have won their opening Asian Cup knockout fixture once before, in 2004.
Bahrain have won their last five matches when scoring the opening goal, without conceding a single goal during that stretch.
Japan claimed a comfortable victory in their final group stage match, advancing to the knockout stage for the ninth successive occasion.
The Japanese have a strong record in their opening knockout fixtures, winning five out of the last six editions of this competition.
After their loss to Iraq, Japan looked more like themselves in their match against Indonesia, scoring three or more goals for the sixth time in their last seven encounters.
Japan have also been solid defensively, keeping clean sheets in three of their last four knockout fixtures at the Asian Cup.
Bahrain have not defeated Japan since 2009, while Japan have won four of their last five contests against Bahrain.
Amine Benaddi is still dealing with a knock and may miss the match for Bahrain.
Bahrain made three changes in their starting 11 for their last match, with Abdullah Al-Khalasi, Jasim Al-Shaikh, and Abdulla Yusuf Helal replacing other players.
Kaoru Mitoma is still recovering from an ankle injury and may not feature for Japan.
Takuma Asano can reach 50 caps for the Samurai Blue in this match.
Adel, Baqer, Al Hayam, Ali;
Madan, Al-Aswad, Marhoon;
Sugawara, Itakura, Tomiyasu, H. Ito;
J. Ito, Kubo, Minamino;
Prediction: Bahrain 1-4 Japan
Japan is expected to be sharper in the attack and secure a win against Bahrain. Bahrain’s lack of experience in big matches may make it difficult for them to keep up with Japan’s attacking options.
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