Japan on Tuesday became the first country to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, thanks to an injury-time penalty from Keisuke Honda. The CSKA Moscow striker salvaged a 1-1 draw against Australia, which was just enough to book a place at next year’s finals in Brazil. Japan now has a seven-point lead in Asian Qualifying Group A, ahead of second-place Oman, and a nine-point lead over third-place Australia, with two games to play.
After the game, Japan coachAlberto Zaccheroni said: "Just qualifying is not enough. We will aim even higher in Brazil ... I came to bring them to the World Cup -- that was my bottom line. I feel relieved that I achieved it. We have a very strong commitment to playing well. We are going to improve further and surprise the world."
Australia, which took the lead against Japan through Tommy Oar, is now third in the group and battling for the other automatic qualifying spot in the group with Jordan, Oman and Iraq. The third-place team will enter a playoff.