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Japan National Football Team

Japan
Governing bodyJapan Football Association
Affiliated1929
StadiumNational Olympic Stadium (57,363 seats)
ManagerH. Moriyasu

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Japan's FIFA World Cup squad and players to watch

It's been a rocky road for Japan leading up to the upcoming World Cup. Coach Vahid Halilhodzic was jettisoned in April despite leading them successfully through qualifying, with Akira Nishino hired in his stead. Unfortunately, Nishino's first game in charge didn't go as planned, as the Samurai Blue lost 2-0 to Ghana in a friendly warm-up, and they'll hope to get back on track against Switzerland  and Paraguay later this month as they have yet to win a game in 2018.

Coach's mission

Japan are in a pretty balanced group at the upcoming World Cup, with Senegal, Colombia, and Poland for company, so their chances of qualifying for the round of 16 appear to be pretty good. To date, the Asian nation have never gotten beyond that juncture and last made it to the round of 16 at the 2014 edition. Interestingly enough, they have alternated between group stage exits and round of 16 placements since first qualifying for their first World Cup in 1998, so if one believes in patterns, then the Samurai Blue are at least due to make it to the first knockout rounds in Russia.

New recruits

Overall, Japan is a largely experienced team. However, there are a few new faces in this 23-man squad, including 23-year-old shot-stopper Kōsuke Nakamura, 23-year-old defender Naomichi Ueda, and 25-year-old midfielder Ryota Oshima. All three have fewer than five caps.

Experienced faces

Leicester City's Shinji Okazaki is among the star faces on this team and with his 50 goals, will be expected to help spearhead Japan's attack. Other veterans include Keisuke Honda, who Serie A fans will remember from his AC Milan days and now plies his trade with Mexican side Pachuca, as well as Yuto Nagatomo, who once played for Inter and now plays his club football for Galatasaray. Then there's skipper Makoto Hasebe, a stalwart for Eintracht Frankfurt, as well as Southampton's Maya Yoshida.

Absentees

Japan have opted to leave Kento Misao, Yosuke Ideguchi and Takuma Asano at home following their 2-0 defeat to Ghana.

Full Squad

Goalkeepers: Eiji Kawashima (Metz), Masaaki Higashiguchi (Gamba Osaka), Kosuke Nakamura (Kashiwa Reysol)

Defenders: Wataru Endo (Urawa Reds), Tomoaki Makino (Urawa Reds), Yuto Nagatomo (Galatasaray), Gotoku Sakai (Hamburg), Hiroki Sakai (Marseille), Gen Shoji (Kashima Antlers), Naomichi Ueda (Kashima Antlers), Maya Yoshida (Southampton)

Midfielders: Genki Haraguchi (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Makoto Hasebe (Eintracht Frankfurt), Keisuke Honda (Pachuca), Takashi Inui (Eibar), Shinji Kagawa (Borrusia Dortmund), Ryota Oshima (Kawasaki Frontale), Gaku Shibasaki (Getafe), Takashi Usami (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka)

Forwards: Yoshinori Muto (Mainz), Shinji Okazaki (Leicester City), Yuya Osako (Cologne)

Japan Football Association Info & Statistics

History Founded: 1921, Affiliated: 1929
Uniform Jerseys: Navy blue, Shorts: Navy blue, Stockings: Navy blue
Website www.jfa.jp
World Cup Appearances 6: 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014, 2018
Continental Titles First: Asian Nations Cup (1992, 2000, 2004, 2011)
Best Results First: FIFA Women's World Cup Final 2011, FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup Final 2014
Second: FIFA Confederations Cup 2001, FIFA Women's World Cup Final 2015, FIFA U-20 World Cup Final 1999, Olympic Football Tournament Women Final 2012, FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup Final 2010, 2016
Third: FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup Final 2012, 2016, Olympic Football Tournament Final 1968
Fourth: FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Final 2005, Olympic Football Tournament Women Final 2008, Olympic Football Tournament Final 2012

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