National team manager Alberto Zaccheroni admits he was thinking about substituting Keisuke Honda shortly before the star forward booked Japan's ticket to the 2014 World Cup with a 91st-minute penalty in Tuesday's 1-1 draw with Australia.

Japan became the first team to reach next summer's tournament in Brazil after picking up the point it needed at Saitama Stadium, with Honda holding his nerve to bury the spot kick after Tommy Oar had given Australia a shock lead with a freak goal in the 82nd minute.

Zaccheroni admitted he had doubts about Honda's fitness after the 26-year-old joined the squad only a day earlier having played in last Saturday's Russian Cup final with CSKA Moscow, but the manager was left thanking his better judgment after Honda's late intervention clinched qualification on home soil for the first time in front of a crowd of 62,172.