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Tokyo: Leicester City striker Shinji Okazaki believes the Samurai Blue can continue their remarkable run of consecutive appearances at the FIFA World Cup when the final phase of Asia’s qualifying campaign for Russia 2018 concludes in early September.

The Japanese have qualified for every FIFA World Cup since making their debut in France in 1998, reaching the Round of 16 as co-hosts in 2002 and again in South Africa eight years later.

Japan currently lead Group B of the Confederation’s qualifying campaign by a point with two games remaining and Vahid Halilhodzic’s side are at least guaranteed a place in the playoff rounds should they fail to secure an automatic berth.

And with games against Australia on August 31 and Saudi Arabia five days later, the challenge facing Japan is significant.

“We have a little bit of pressure on us, but maybe in one month’s time when we’re all fit, we will be ready to go for the qualification matches for Japan,” said Okazaki, who appeared for his club side in the Premier League Asia Trophy in Hong Kong last week.

One point separates the top three sides, with Australia currently in third place in the group and Ange Postecoglou’s side travel to Saitama Stadium to meet the Japanese. Halilhodzic’s team, then head west to Riyadh for their final match in the group phase against Bert van Marwijk’s resurgent Saudis.

And the size of the task facing Okazaki and his teammates is not lost on the 2016 Premier League-winning forward.

“Against Saudi Arabia and Australia, it won’t be easy,” said Okazaki, who represented Japan at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa and the 2014 Finals in Brazil.

“It will difficult and our condition will be very important. But after one month, when everyone is fit, I’m sure we’ll be ok."

“I’m confident we can do well.”

Photos: Lagardère Sports