Japan's national soccer team is gearing up for a crucial match in its uphill battle to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
In the Asian final qualifiers, the Samurai Blue have so far won one match and lost two in Group B. They face group leader Australia on Tuesday at Saitama Stadium near Tokyo.
The two top teams in the group automatically qualify for the World Cup. Australia and second-place Saudi Arabia both have three wins and are ahead of Japan by six points.
Beating Australia would give the Japanese squad three much-needed points and keep its hopes alive for an automatic World Cup berth.
The Samurai Blue practiced at Saitama Stadium on Monday to fine-tune their game.
Captain Yoshida Maya said whether Japan can play in the World Cup is a matter of life and death not only for the players, but for everyone involved in the sport.
He said the match against Australia is extremely important, and although the players will feel the weight on their shoulders, they will turn the pressure into strength.
Head coach Moriyasu Hajime acknowledged at a news conference on Monday that the team is in a tight spot, but he said it still has a chance.
Moriyasu said the players are preparing well both physically and mentally, and the team will only think about winning its next match to clinch a spot in the World Cup.