Japan to face Bulgaria in friendly

Kyodo

Japan will play Bulgaria in a friendly on May 30 at Toyota Stadium, the Japan Football Association announced on Thursday.

The match will serve as a warmup for the Asian champions’ final two qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup at home to Australia on June 6 and away to Iraq on June 11 and the Confederations Cup in Brazil, also in June.

Currently the runaway leaders at the top of Group B, Japan can qualify for their fifth World Cup finals in succession with victory away to Jordan on March 26.

Japan have never beaten Bulgaria, who are second behind Italy in their World Cup qualifying group, drawing once and losing three times, the most recent meeting a 2-1 defeat in Osaka in a 2006 exhibition match.

After their qualifying program wraps up, Alberto Zaccheroni’s men head to Brazil for the Confederations Cup, where they have been drawn against the hosts, Italy and Mexico in the first round.

“June will be a very important month for us and this match will be an important part of our preparations,” Zaccheroni said in a statement.

“Bulgaria have a lot of high quality players and I am aware they are a good team. They are doing well in their World Cup qualifiers in the same group as Italy,” added the Italian.