Japan to meet Saudi Arabia in Asian Cup qualifier

Japan will meet Saudi Arabia on Sept. 1 in an away match in the qualifying round of the 2007 Asian Cup tournament instead of the originally scheduled March 1 date, the Asian Football Confederation said Friday.

The scheduling change was made as the Saudi side had already been set to play an international friendly against Serbia and Montenegro on March 1.

Japan sent a letter to the AFC protesting the scheduling change, arguing that both countries must agree to it, but its complaints were waved aside.

Japan will now be in a hurry to search for a team to play on March 1, a day designated for international friendlies, as it prepares for the start of the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany.

Japan Football Association President Saburo Kawabuchi has suggested playing a game in Europe, but setting up a fixture at short notice will be difficult as many of the countries taking part in the World Cup finals have already arranged their schedules.