Yoshida chasing World Cup spot

By SFC Media Thu 31 Aug International
Photo by Getty Images | Maya Yoshida

A busy week of international action for Southampton’s players kicks off today, with Maya Yoshida, Cédric and Wesley Hoedt first up.

Yoshida is with Japan, who face a crucial World Cup qualifier at home to Australia (11.35am BST).

Victory for the Samurai Blue would ensure they book their place at the 2018 finals, in Russia, with a game to spare, marking a sixth consecutive World Cup qualification for the country.

Anything less than a win in Saitama would make the situation a little nervy for Japan, though.

Currently, Yoshida and his teammates top Group B of the Asian qualifying section, with the top two teams advancing, while the third-placed side will enter a play-off.

If they fail to beat Australia – who are in third place, just one point behind them – they would face a decisive match away to second-placed Saudi Arabia next Tuesday.

Portugal also begin an important qualifying double-header tonight (7.45pm BST), as they host Faroe Islands.

That should be a fairly simple affair for Cédric and his colleagues, as they look to keep in touch with group leaders Switzerland, who are three points ahead of them with four games left.

The bigger challenge will likely come on Sunday night, when Portugal visit third-placed Hungary.

Saints new-boy Hoedt could also see action this evening, as Netherlands visit France for a vital World Cup qualifier (7.45pm BST).

The Dutch are currently third in Group A of the European section, three points behind both tonight's opponents and Sweden.

After tonight's game, the Netherlands then return home to host Bulgaria in another qualifier on Sunday.

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