Iraq vs Japan Prediction: Samurai Blue to put Lions of Mesopotamia to sword

 | January 18 | 

3 mins read

The second round of Group D fixtures at the 2023 AFC Asian Cup takes place on Thursday, with Iraq and Japan first up (KO, 11:30) in a battle of the opening game winners at the Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan.

Japan avoided an almighty shock on Sunday as the Samurai Blue came from behind to beat Vietnam 4-2 in Doha, before Iraq dispatched Indonesia 3-1 on Monday afternoon to move level on points with the East Asian country.

A victory for either side would guarantee their place in the knockout stage, but a draw or defeat is unlikely to be costly with both expected to pick up three points in their final group game next week.

Iraq vs Japan Betting Tips:

  • Japan and over 3.5 goals @ 8/5
  • Japan and both teams to score @ 15/8

Team News

Muhanad Ali, Osama Rashid and Aymen Hussein were all on the scoresheet for Iraq against Indonesia, with the latter finding the net from the bench.

Ex-Manchester United talent Zidane Iqbal, now at FC Utrecht in the Netherlands, was another starter in that game and will hope to keep his place on Thursday, while AFC Wimbledon hotshot Ali Al-Hamadi - who grew up in Toxteth, Liverpool - is hoping to play his first minutes of the competition.

Japan head coach Hajime Moriyasu was no stranger to a tinker at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, where his side shocked Germany and Spain en route to a narrow round of 16 exit, so it remains to be seen whether he sticks with the starting XI that overcame a sticky start against Vietnam.

Feyenoord forward Ayase Ueda came on at half-time for Mao Hosoya, so that's a likely change in attack. while Freiburg's Ritsu Doan - who scored twice in Qatar just over a year ago - is another pushing for a starting berth.

Real Sociedad star Takefusa Kubo was billed as one of Asian football's best players coming into this tournament and he will hope to earn his first start of the competition after appearing as a late substitute on Sunday.

The game may come too soon for Brighton's wing wizard Kaoru Mitoma, though, who has been battling an ankle issue.

Match Odds

Iraq are 10/1 to pull of a shock victory over Japan, who are 2/11 to secure the win themselves. The draw, meanwhile, can be found at 5/1.

Both teams to score is priced at 11/10 and it's 7/5 for ex-Liverpool forward Takumi Minamino - who bagged a brace against Vietnam - to score anytime.

Japan and over 3.5 goals @ 8/5

If you want goals, Japan are the team to follow in international football. The Samurai Blue's last five games have all seen at least five goals scored, and they are now going in search of their 12th consecutive victory, a run that stretches back to June last year.

10 of those 11 games have seen Japan to win and over 3.5 goals land, including contests against nations such as Germany (4-1), Peru (4-1) and Turkey (4-2), who are all significantly higher than Iraq in the FIFA World Rankings.

Matches involving Iraq haven't been short on goals recently either, with five of their last eight seeing at least four goals scored.

It could be another exciting encounter for both sides on Thursday, but it's hard to look past a rampant Japan side for the win.

Japan to win & over 3.5 goals vs Iraq at 8-5Japan and both teams to score @ 15/8

Moriyasu's men have been scoring goals for fun over the last 12 months, but they are susceptible in defence themselves having kept just five clean sheets in 13 games since the World Cup, with Tunisia the only side of note that they have shut out.

Japan conceded late on to Jordan in their pre-Asian Cup friendly earlier this month while shipping two first-half goals to a Vietnam side ranked 94th in the world isn't a great look.

Iraq scored three times on Monday and could find some joy in attack against the Samurai Blue in Al Rayyan.

Japan to win & BTTS in Iraq vs Japan at 13-8Check out the rest of our Football Betting Tips here.

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