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Japan FA backs Halilhodzic

AFC World Cup qualifiers
By ESPN Staff

Milan make up ground, Juve host Inter in Cup

MILAN, Jan 28 (Reuters) - AC Milan's creep up the Serie A table could be given more impetus on Wednesday when they visit struggling Reggina in the first of their two games in hand.

The European champions, who endured a poor first half of the season, are now up to seventh following Sunday's 2-0 win over Genoa when new Brazilian striker Pato scored twice.

The 18-year-old played upfront on his own at the San Siro and may be called upon to do so again at Reggina with injury-plagued Ronaldo struggling with a muscle problem.

'Pato has been fundamental. He is starting to get to know Italian football better,' team mate Kaka told reporters.

Australian Zeljko Kalac is likely to deputise for the tired Dida again as Milan play a match rearranged from when they won the Club World Cup in Japan in December. They host Livorno in their last game in hand on Feb. 13.

Also on Wednesday, Juventus host Inter Milan in an Italian Cup quarter-final second leg with the tie intriguingly poised at 2-2.

Juve keeper Gianluigi Buffon is doubtful after missing Sunday's 3-1 win at Livorno with a bad back but winger Mauro Camoranesi, who scored in the 1-1 home league draw with Inter in November, may be fit after a month out with a thigh problem.

The Turin club are expected to wrap up the signing of Liverpool midfielder Mohamed Sissoko later on Monday but he will not be available as he jets straight back to the African Nations Cup with Mali.

Lazio defender Guglielmo Stendardo is also set to sign on loan later and is likely to play in the Cup given Juve's defensive injuries.

Serie A leaders Inter, who drew 0-0 at Udinese on Sunday, will again rotate their side.

Udinese take a 3-2 advantage to Catania and Lazio also visit Fiorentina on Wednesday 2-1 up from the first leg.

On Tuesday, holders AS Roma host Sampdoria following a 1-1 draw in Genoa.