Preparations could hardly have been more disrupted as Japan gets ready to defend its Asian Cup title, but that is all likely to be forgotten once the tournament kicks off on Friday.

Japan launches its quest for a record fifth continental crown against Palestine on Jan. 12, with the fallout from a Spanish match-fixing case naming manager Javier Aguirre as a defendant dominating the buildup to the campaign. Aguirre has come under intense scrutiny since the case was filed on Dec. 15 — with speculation he could even lose his job before 2014 was out — but the Mexican has ridden out the storm and will be grateful that he can now turn his attention to events on the field.

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