Japan Football Team Preview, schedule, and roster for the Qatar Football World Cup

Before the Football World Cup in Qatar, Sports Mole looks at how likely it is that Asia’s best hope, Japan, will be there for the seventh time in a row. Now that they are regulars at the Football World Cup, Japan is going into their seventh straight finals with quiet confidence and a young, exciting team that might be better than the one that came so close to making the quarterfinals in Russia four years ago.

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They also have a bit more stability going into this tournament. The Japanese FA fired manager Vahid Halilhodzic just a few weeks before the 2018 finals. Their current coach, Hajime Moriyasu, has been with this team for four years, taking over for Akira Nishino, who was in charge temporarily in Russia. But if there’s one thing that should be said about the Japanese national team, they should never be taken lightly. Belgium can attest to this since they were among the last teams to beat them in the World Cup.

GROUP

Japan is Asia’s most-liked team because they have made it to the knockout rounds in three of the last five World Cups. However, even the most optimistic Samurai Blue fan will admit that they have much to do to get out of Group E this year.

Spain and Germany are in Japan’s group, two of the last three World Cup winners. If Japan wants to repeat what it did four years ago, it must pull off one or two huge upsets. Costa Rica is their other Group E opponent, but they are much weaker than the team that shocked the world in 2014. Japan will hope to get three points from that game to keep their chances alive going into the final game.

FIXTURES

  • Germany plays Japan on November 23. (1 pm, Khalifa International Stadium, Doha).
  • Japan takes on Costa Rica on November 27. (10am, Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan).
  • Spain plays Japan on December 1. (7 pm, Al Bayt Stadium, Al Rayyan).

HOW THEY QUALIFIED

Japan breezed through both rounds of AFC qualifying with ease. In the first round, they were put in a group with Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, and Myanmar, all of which are small countries. In 2021, covid restrictions in Asia meant that many of their away games were still played in Japan. This was done to avoid travelling too much, so Japan usually had the advantage of playing at home.

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The Samurai Blue never had a problem moving forward. They won all eight games and scored 46 goals, including crushing wins over Mongolia (14-0) and Myanmar (10-0). In the next phase, the pressure will be higher because only two automatic qualifying spots are left. They will have to compete with Saudi Arabia, Australia, Oman, China, and Vietnam for one.

Even though they lost their first game at home to Oman and their third game in Saudi Arabia, Japan quickly qualified for the finals by winning six of their last seven games. This was helped because Australia didn’t do as well in qualifying.

RECENT FORM

Aside from a 1-1 draw with Vietnam after they had already qualified, Japan made it to Qatar in style by winning five games without losing. In friendlies over the summer, they beat Paraguay 4-1 in a strong performance and only just lost to a full-strength Brazil team, which is the favourite to win the World Cup.

The Kirin Cup, which used to be held in Japan every year, came back after a six-year break, and Moriyasu’s team had mixed results. Another 4-1 win, this time against Ghana, gave them more confidence, but a 3-0 loss to Tunisia in Suita quickly brought them back down to earth.

In September’s internationals, though, they were back to being solid on defence. They won against the USA and tied with Ecuador thanks to two clean sheets in a row. No other team came close to scoring as many goals as Japan did in their 18 qualifying games. Japan should be the most exciting Asian team to watch in Qatar.

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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.

SQUAD

Eiji Kawashima (Strasbourg), Shuichi Gonda (Shimizu S-Pulse), and Daniel Schmidt are the team’s goalkeepers (Sint-Truidense)

Defenders: include Ko Itakura (Borussia Monchengladbach), Yuto Nagatomo (Tokyo FC), Maya Yoshida (Schalke 04), Hiroki Sakai (Urawa Red Diamonds), Shogo Taniguchi (Kawasaki Frontale), Miki Yamane (Kawasaki Frontale), Takehiro Tomiyasu (Arsenal), and Hiroki Ito (Stuttgart)

Midfielders: Kaoru Mitoma (Brighton & Hove Albion), Ritsu Doan (Freiburg), Ao Tanaka (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Junya Ito (Reims), Takumi Minamino (Monaco), Hidemasa Morita (Sporting Lisbon), Wataru Endo (Stuttgart), Daichi Kamada (Eintracht Frankfurt), Yuki Soma (N (Real Sociedad)

Forwards: Shuto Machino, Takuma Asano, Daizen Maeda, and Ayase Ueda are the forwards for Bochum (Shonan Bellmare).

TAKUMI MINAMINO – STAR PLAYER

Takumi Minamino is now in his ninth season of European club football. Since he left Red Bull Salzburg for Liverpool in 2020, he has had a rough patch, but the skilled attacker, who always had a good eye for goals while he was in England, is still an essential part of the Japanese national team.

During qualifying, he scored 10 goals in 15 games, which put him near the top of the charts. Even though he didn’t play much in the Premier League at Anfield, Minamino scored seven goals as Liverpool won the FA Cup and the EFL Cup last season.

Minamino usually plays on the wing for his country, but he is more of a goal-scorer than a playmaker. He leaves the playmaking to players like Daichi Kamada, Takefusa Kubo, and Junya Ito. The Monaco player may need to step up in front of the goal again after regular starter Yuya Osako was left out of their 26-man squad.

Even though Kamada won the Europa League in 2021-22, this young team doesn’t have much big-game experience. His experience in the Champions League and Europa League should help when Japan plays Germany and Spain, and the fact that he has played in many big games could be significant.

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MANAGER – HAJIME MORIYASU

Hajime Moriyasu used to be a member of the Japanese national team. He has worked his way up through the ranks and now has the chance to show off his skills on the biggest stage in the world. During his five years in the J League with Sanfrecce Hiroshima, he won three titles and led the Japanese champions to a third-place finish at the 2015 FIFA Club World Cup held in Japan. However, the team’s performance started to go downhill, and he left the club in 2017.

After working as Nishino’s assistant in 2018, he took over as manager of the national team after they were eliminated in the round of 16. He led them to the 2019 AFC Cup final, where they were shocked to lose to Qatar, who will host the 2022 World Cup. Japan lost its first-ever continental cup final, and even though it was easy for Moriyasu to get to these finals, he might not be around for long if the Japanese Olympic team didn’t win a medal at their home games last summer.

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