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Japan embracing huge challenge in Qatar World Cup 2022

Natalia Richardson

Updated: Oct 20, 2022 05:59

Samurai Blue embracing huge challenge


    Qatar 2022 will be Japan's seventh successive FIFA World Cup

    They will take on Germany, Costa Rica and Spain in Group E

    Takumi Minamino will pull the strings for the Samurai Blue will introduce you the Japanese national football team...

    Japan hopes to reach new heights in Qatar after steadily rising to become one of Asia's footballing powerhouses in recent years. The Samurai Blue were placed in a relatively difficult group during the draw, which slightly diminished fan excitement regarding the team's easy qualification.

    Former FIFA World Cup champions Germany and Spain are waiting for them in Group E, with Costa Rica filling the final spot after their victory in the inter-confederation play-offs.

    The key goal for Japan will be to go to the quarterfinals for the first time ever. Even getting through the group stage won't be easy, but the team and supporters are optimistic and excited about the chance to compete against the best teams in the world.

    The majority of the team currently competes in Europe against elite competition at the highest level. And if they can grow into a more cohesive and potent unit, they might be able to surprise their rivals.


    Japan‘s Group E games


    23 November, 16:00 local time

    Japan-Costa Rica

    27 November, 13:00 local time


    1 December, 22:00 local time

    Hajime Moriyasu’s approach and tactics

    The remarkable coaching career of Moriyasu began at Sanfrecce Hiroshima in the J. League. He was their coach from 2012 until 2016, during which time they won three championships. At Hiroshima, he varied between 4-3-3 and 5-4-1 formations. His team used a possession-based strategy and looked to take advantage of open space to advance the ball.

    Since taking over as national team coach, he has used a 4-2-3-1 formation, which when not in control transitions more into a 4-4-2 with the No. 10 pushing forward to join the front line. But unlike his Hiroshima days, his club occasionally struggles for attack ideas, leaving them dependent on the talent of specific players to eke out opportunities.

    If the team is to advance from a difficult pool, they will undoubtedly need to be able to effectively adapt to the strategies of the competition.

    Key player: Takumi Minamino

    Since the team's first World Cup appearance in France in 1998, their supporters have grown accustomed to seeing displays of offensive prowess. Takumi Minamino, who ideally matches this mold, aspires to play in the same caliber as Hidetoshi Nakata, Keisuke Honda, and Shinji Kagawa.

    The 27-year-old, who tied Yuya Osako's all-time record with ten goals in the Asian qualifiers, is anticipated to wear the No. 10 jersey in Qatar and will be essential to Moriyasu's plans.

    He found it difficult to match up with some of the top attackers in the world at Liverpool, but he was more than a capable backup for Jurgen Klopp's team. He garnered a lot of appreciation for the part he played in helping Liverpool win two domestic cup championships in the 2021/22 season.

    His expanding expertise at the top level, which he will use to compete in Ligue 1 this season while continuing his tireless jogging at Monaco, could be the key to Japan reaching new heights.


    One to watch: Kaoru Mitoma

    For the national squad, Mitoma has become a game-changer during the last three years. He seldom starts, yet his impact off the bench may completely change the course of a game.

    His primary tactic is to quickly weave down the left flank, tying opponents up with sharp direction changes. With his ability to dribble down the flank, cut inside, cross, and shoot, he consistently confounds defenders.

    Although he only made his Japan debut less than a year ago, he has already scored five goals in nine games, with the two goals he scored against Australia in March securing Japan's trip to Qatar being the most significant.

    He played a key role for Union Saint-Gilloise last year as they advanced significantly despite just getting promoted to the Belgian Pro League. This season, he's back at Brighton, and he's showcasing his talent there as well.


    Japan’s World Cup record

    After establishing the J. League, a professional league, in 1990, Japan made their long-awaited World Cup debut in France '98. Since then, they have consistently been present, and Qatar will mark their eighth finals participation.

    When they made their debut and lost all three games, the gap in class was obvious, but four years later, when they co-hosted the tournament with Korea Republic, things were very different. They made it to the knockout round for the first time under the leadership of Philippe Troussier and with a passionate home crowd behind them.

    Since since, they have alternated between exiting in the Round of 16 and the Group Stage. In 2010, they advanced to the round of 16 for the first time away from home, only to lose heartbreakingly in a shootout. In 2006, they failed to win a single game and placed last in their group. Just as they had done eight years earlier, they only managed to score one point four years later.

    They again narrowly missed the quarterfinals at the most recent tournament in Russia after blowing a two-goal advantage against Belgium in the round of 16.

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