Asian champion Japan is poised to become the first country to join host Brazil at the 2014 World Cup when it takes its unbeaten record in the final qualifying round to Jordan on Tuesday.
The tournament may still be 15 months away but Japan's blistering form in the Asian qualifiers has put them almost out of sight of its four Group B rivals and on the verge of a fifth consecutive World Cup appearance.
With four wins and a draw in its first five games, the Blue Samurai have an eight-point lead in the group and will book their ticket to Brazil with another victory at the King Abdullah Stadium.
Even a draw might be enough if Tuesday's other Group B match between Australia and Oman in Sydney ends in a stalemate. Japan was also the first country to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, with host South Africa given the customary bye.
Japan trounced Jordan 6-0 at the Saitama Stadium last June but forward Keisuke Honda, who scored a hat-trick in that match and has recently been linked with English Premier League side Everton, was declared unfit by his Russian club CSKA Moscow.
Coach Alberto Zaccheroni will also be missing Inter Milan full-back Yuto Nagatomo, who has a knee injury.
But the Italian is confident in the strength of his squad, which includes Manchester United's Shinji Kagawa and Stuttgart forward Shinji Okazaki, who has scored four goals in Japan's last three games.
"Everyone knows how highly I value (Honda and Nagatomo) but it's not the first time we have been without them," Zaccheroni said. "The players who have replaced them have always done a good job."
The battle for the two qualification berths from Group A is still very much open with Uzbekistan on eight points, just one ahead of South Korea, Iran and Qatar heading into Tuesday's games.
After managing only two points from its first three games, Uzbekistan has powered its way into first place after 1-0 away wins over Qatar and Iran.
However, the Central Asian side has been in poor form of late, drawing 0-0 at home against 10-man Hong Kong and losing 2-1 to the United Arab Emirates in recent Asian Cup 2014 qualifying matches.
Mirjalal Kasimov's charges will need to raise their game for the visit of unfancied Lebanon, who is bottom with four points but warmed up for the match with a stunning 5-2 victory over Thailand in Asian Cup qualifying on Friday.
The other Group A game will see South Korea host Qatar in chilly conditions at the Seoul World Cup Stadium as the former semi-finalists press its bid to qualify for an eighth consecutive World Cup.
WC Qualifying AFC
Jordan hosts Uruguay in the opening leg of the intercontinental Play-off looking to reach the FIFA World Cup for the first time.