Japan Football World Cup squad, guide and fixtures

Japan hopes to break the recent trend in World Cup performance this winter, even if they face a difficult task in Group E against Germany, Spain, and Costa Rica. Since first partaking in a world championship in 1998, Japan’s record has read: group stage exit, last 16 losses, group stage exit, last 16 losses, group stage exit, and last 16 losses.

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This form suggests another early flight home for the national team, and given the stiffness of the competition in their group, there would be no surprise or shame in that. But Coach Hajime Moriyasu, who played for Japan between 1992 and 1996, will be looking to help his country replicate their spirited performance at the 2018 World Cup simultaneously leading the team for the first time in a world championship.

In Russia, Japan qualified behind Colombia in the group stage – despite beating the South American side – to stage a knockout round against Belgium. Japan had a 2-0 lead but suffered a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to all third places. Can they escape a difficult group and do better than four years ago?

Group fixtures (all times GMT)

Wednesday, November 23: Germany vs. Japan –   16:00

Sunday, November 27: Japan vs. Costa Rica – 13:00

Thursday, December 1: Japan vs. Spain –     22:00

Predicted squad

Goalkeepers: Eiji Kawashima (Strasbourg), Kosei Tani (Shonan Bellmare), Shuichi Gonda (Shimizu S Pulse)

Defenders: Takehiro Tomiyasu (Arsenal), Maya Yoshida (Schalke), Yuta Nakayama (Huddersfield Town), Hiroki Ito (Stoccarda), Ayumu Seko (Grasshoppers), Yuto Nagatomo (FC Tokyo), Shogo Taniguchi (Kawasaki Frontale), Miki Yamane (Kawasaki Frontale), Hiroki Sakai (Urawa Red Diamonds)

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Midfielders: Takumi Minamino (Monaco), Reo Hatate (Celtic), Daichi Kamada (Eintracht Frankfurt), Takefusa Kubo (Real Society), Kaoru Mitoma (Brighton), Hidemasa Morita (Sporting CP), Genki Haraguchi (Union Berlin), Junya Ito (Reims), Gaku Shibasaki (Leganes), Yuki Soma (Nagoya Grampus)

Attaccanti: Kyogo Furuhashi (Celtic), Daizen Maeda (Celtic), Ayase Ueda (Cercle Brugge), Shuto Machino (Shonan Bellmare)  Da Tenere Rocchio Stella – Takumi Minamino: The versatile striker, who arrived in Monaco from Liverpool this summer, he is perhaps Japan’s most important active player, along with Arsenal defender Takehiro Tomiyasu. Minamo, 27, has already scored 17 goals for his national team in 43 appearances, and his compatriots at home, he will count on him to get back to his first World Cup here.

Talent to break through – Daichi Kamada:

The attacking midfielder has scored six goals in 21 international caps. At the club level this season, he already looks set to surpass the number of goals and assists he registered for Eintracht Frankfurt last term. As Kamada showed in Frankfurt’s triumphant Europa League run in 2021/22, the 26-year-old is a real threat, and he hopes to demonstrate that in Qatar.

Prediction 

At least one of the “great” footballing nations tends to fall at the first hurdle in a major tournament, and Japan hopes that Spain or Germany will be bad this winter. It’s Japan’s best hope of qualifying for the knockout stage, although – on paper – they’re likely to fall behind those two nations and withdraw soon. They were cracked out in the group stage.

Japan gets a tough draw

Japan’s objective at the World Cup will be to breakdown the round of 16 hex. The Japanese will play their seventh consecutive World Cup, three times the team has reached the round of 16. But it never went any further. The Japanese lost to Belgium 3 2 four years ago. They were eliminated by Paraguay on penalties in 2010 and lost 10 to Turkey in 2002 when the country hosted the event alongside South Korea. Japanese coach Hajime Moriyasu said the goal this time was, of course, to reach the quarter-finals. 

More first-team equals were hard to come by; nevertheless, he finished his Barcelona occupation, having been introduced only 13 times. Injury-hit invocations at Lazio, Real Betis, Numancia, and Gimnastic were disastrous to catch fire things – and he ended up opening his career in Holland with Go Into the future Eagles in 2012 at just 32. For more to know about Football World Cup Tickets, Click here.

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But it won’t be cool. Japan is in Group E through Germany, Spain, and Costa Rica, arguably Qatar’s toughest group. Both European teams are still among the favorites to win any World Cup, and Costa Rica only reached the quarter-finals in 2014 in Brazil. Germany has gained it four times, and Spain won it in 2010. “I don’t think we can win doing the same things we’ve done in the last six tournaments,” Moriyasu said. “We must be able to function and compete for no matter who is on the pitch.

THE SUSPENSE 

After fielding two completely different rosters for the September friendlies against USA and Ecuador, it remainders to be seen who exactly will pick Moriyasu to face Germany on November 23. If the previous one speaks, Shuichi Gonda will possible start in goal with Arsenal’s Takahiro Tomiyasu and deceive World Cup defender Maya Yoshida in the center of resistance. Stuttgart captain Wataru Endo and Hidemasa Morita will announcer the midfield.

Daichi Kamada, who has had a good season for Europa League champions Eintracht Frankfurt, is establishing himself as the playmaker. Junya Ito should join him on the right, although the Reims speedster could play in attack if Moriyasu chooses other options than the proven center forward Yuya Osako. It seemed to be the most threatening player in Japan’s 1-0 damage to Brazil at the National Stadium in Tokyo earlier this year. It’s unclear whether Takefusa Kubo, the face of Japan’s Olympic team in Tokyo and Kaoru Mitoma, will find a place in the squad or come off the bench like candles. Japan lost the Olympic bronze medal match to Mexico 3-1.

This Japan team could be light on the World Cup experience. With 26 seats available, Moriyasu could bring in veterans like goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima and defender Yuto Nagatomo to fix the bench and calm down fresher players.

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SO CLOSE

Japan exposed in the 2018 World Cup in Russia that it could beat the best teams in the world. Japan led Belgium 2-0 later 52 minutes but then lost 3-2 with a winner in added time. Belgium reached the semi-finals before losing to world-champion France. For many, the most extraordinary thing about the game is that Japan, despite the shocking loss, did a new job of cleaning the changing room and left a thank you message in Russian for their hosts. Japanese fans also picked up rubbish in the stadium, filling plastic bags after the defeat.

DANIEL SCHMIDT  

He has the least Japanese name: goalkeeper Daniel Schmidt. He was native in the United States to a German father and a Japanese mother but was raised in Japan since he was a toddler. Schmidt made several key saves in a World Cup warm-up game, a 00 draw with Ecuador in September. He is likely to rival Gonda for goal starts. Schmidt joins NBA tennis players Naomi Osaka and Rui Hachimura as Japanese athletes with at least one non-Japanese parent. Osaka lit the cauldron at the Tokyo Olympics last year, and Hachimura passed the Japanese flag at the opening ceremony. Athletes like Schmidt, Osaka, and Hachimura represent multicultural backgrounds in a country known for its homogeneity and conformity.

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