Despite sacking their coach just 71 days before the FIFA World Cup 2018, Japan will attempt to prove their doubters wrong when they face Colombia at the Mordovia Arena Russia on Tuesday. Colombia finished fourth in CONMEBOL qualifying competition to qualify for the FIFA World Cup 2018 and, apart from Poland, are favourites to enter the knockouts of the competition from Group H. This will be Colombia's sixth participation in the World Cup. They finished as quarter-finalists in2014. On the other hand, Japan, the 1992, 2000, 2004 and 2011 Asia Cup winners, are set for their sixth World Cup appearance. Japan's best finish came in 2002 and 2010. They reached the last 16 on both occasions.
Colombia are sweating on the fitness of star midfielder James Rodriguez. The top-scorer at Brazil 2014 is a doubt for his team's opener after struggling with a strain in his left calf. The Bayern Munich attacking midfielder is key to Colombia's chances of repeating their run to the quarter-finals four years ago in Brazil.
James, 26, netted six goals and created four assists to help Colombia qualify for Russia, while midfielder Wilmar Barrios is also battling to be fit.
Colombia are unbeaten this year after seeing off France 3-2 in March before goalless draws against fellow World Cup contenders Egypt and Australia.
Colombia: David Ospina; Santiago Arias, Yerry Mina, Davinson Sanchez, Johan Mojica; Abel Aguilar, Carlos Sanchez, Juan Cuadrado, James Rodriguez; Luis Muriel, Radamel Falcao.
Japan: Eiji Kawashima; Hiroki Sakai, Maya Yoshida, Tomoaki Makino, Yuto Nagatomo; Makoto Hasebe, Gaku Shibasaki, Genki Haraguchi, Keisuke Honda, Takashi Inui; Yuya Osako.