World Cup qualifiers pit Japan against arch-rivals North Korea


TOKYO (majirox news) — Japan will play against fierce foes North Korea in qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil as the draw was announced in Rio de Janeiro on July 30.

Also in Group C for the third round of Asian qualifiers are Uzbekistan and Syria, with the top two teams progressing to the final round of games to determine which Asian countries will compete in Brazil.

Japan will be aiming to compete in a fifth successive World Cup finals after reaching the round of 16 in South Africa last year.

Japan will face tough competition from North Korea, who also qualified for the 2010 World Cup, impressing against Brazil but lamely falling 7-0 to Portugal. Japan has won the past two games it has played against North Korea in World Cup qualifiers, a 2-1 win at home in 2006, followed by a 2-0 victory on neutral ground in Bangkok.

Japan is seeded and plays its first games in the third round of qualifiers, which will begin for the Asian confederation in June next year. The 10 competing teams will be divided into two groups, which will play home and away games against every other country with the top two teams in each group gaining automatic entry into the World Cup finals. The third-placed teams in both groups will then compete with the winner going into a playoff against a team from the Conmebol confederation to determine another place in the 32-team competition.

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