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Japan national football team profile


The 2002 World Cup hosts are one of the major foot balling strong houses in Asia. Boasting one of the strongest squads in Asian football, Japan, winners of three of the last five editions of the AFC Asian Cup, have high hopes for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ – their fourth appearance at the global showpiece.

First on the agenda is an improvement on the disappointing showing at Germany 2006, when the Samurai Blue exited at the first hurdle after a 3-1 reverse against Australia, a 0-0 draw with Croatia and a resounding 4-1 defeat by Brazil. Japan will also be facing their first finals without iconic midfielder Hidetoshi Nakata. The former Roma schemer featured in each of the national side’s games at France 1998, Korea/Japan 2002 and Germany 2006 before hanging up his boots after the latter event aged just 29. 

Japan national football team

Having comfortably reached the fourth and final stage of Asian Zone qualifying for South Africa 2010, Japan won four, drew three and lost just one of their eight matches in Group 1. A 2-1 reverse in Australia and a frustrating 0-0 at home against the same opponents were the lowlights of this final phase, though coach Takeshi Okada’s charges still finished well clear of Bahrain, Qatar and Uzbekistan in the five-team section.

The star players of Japan
Japan’s biggest star is former Celtic playmaker Shunsuke Nakamura, who in the summer 2009 made the switch from Glasgow to La Liga with Espanyol. Another European-based performer is young midfielder Keisuke Honda, at Eredivisie outfit VVV Venlo and like Nakamura a gifted left-footer. Leading from the back is 31year-old defensive rock and captain Yuji Nakazawa, who with over 90 senior caps to his name is Japan’s third-most capped player of all time.

National supremo Okada is widely considered to be one of the finest Japanese strategists around. He was at the helm during the Samurai Blue’s first FIFA World Cup appearance at France 1998, having successfully negotiated a tricky play-off meeting with Iran, and later enjoyed spells at club level with Consadole Sapporo and Yokohama F Marinos.

The 53-year-old former international defender’s time in Sapporo included taking the team from the second division into the top flight, while the tactician led Marinos to successive J.League titles in 2003 and 2004. Having stepped away from his role in Yokohama in 2006, he picked up the reins of the national team for a second time a year later – following the stroke suffered by previous incumbent Ivica Osim.

Previous FIFA World Cups of Japan
South Africa 2010 will be Japan’s fourth FIFA World Cup finals, and their fourth in a row. Their best finish came as hosts at Korea/Japan 2002, when they topped Group H ahead of Belgium, Russia and Tunisia to advance to the knockout stages for the first and so far only time. Once in the Round of 16 they put in a brave fight only to go down 1-0 against eventual third-place finishers Turkey, the goal coming after 12 minutes from Umit Davala.

Japan Records

  • At his first finals as Japan coach, back at France 1998, Okada’s charges lost each of their three group games, scoring once and conceding four times in the process.
  • Masashi Nakayama scored Japan’s first ever FIFA World Cup finals goal, netting in the 74th minute of the 2-1 reverse against Jamaicaon French soil.


Japan national Football team Squad

Nr. Name Date of Birth Position Clubs Height
1 Seigo NARAZAKI 15/04/1976 GK Nagoya Grampus Eight (JPN) 187
2 Yuki ABE 06/09/1981 MF Urawa Reds (JPN) 177
3 Yuichi KOMANO 25/07/1981 DF Jubilo Iwata (JPN) 172
4 Marcus Tulio TANAKA 24/04/1981 DF Nagoya Grampus Eight (JPN) 185
5 Yuto NAGATOMO 12/09/1986 DF FC Tokyo (JPN) 170
6 Atsuto UCHIDA 27/03/1988 DF Kashima Antlers (JPN) 176
7 Yasuhito ENDO 28/01/1980 MF Gamba Osaka (JPN) 178
8 Daisuke MATSUI 11/05/1981 MF Grenoble (FRA) 175
9 Shinji OKAZAKI 16/04/1986 FW Shimizu S-Pulse (JPN) 174
10 Shunsuke NAKAMURA 24/06/1978 MF Yokohama F Marinos (JPN) 178
11 Keiji TAMADA 11/04/1980 FW Nagoya Grampus Eight (JPN) 173
12 Kisho YANO 05/04/1984 FW Albirex Niigata (JPN) 185
13 Daiki IWAMASA 30/01/1982 DF Kashima Antlers (JPN) 187
14 Kengo NAKAMURA 31/10/1980 MF Kawasaki Frontale (JPN) 175
15 Yasuyuki KONNO 25/01/1983 DF FC Tokyo (JPN) 178
16 Yoshito OKUBO 09/06/1982 FW Vissel Kobe (JPN) 170
17 Makoto HASEBE 18/01/1984 MF Wolfsburg (GER) 177
18 Keisuke HONDA 13/06/1986 MF CSKA Moscow (RUS) 182
19 Takayuki MORIMOTO 07/05/1988 FW Catania (ITA) 180
20 Junichi INAMOTO 18/09/1979 MF Kawasaki Frontale (JPN) 181
21 Eiji KAWASHIMA 20/03/1983 GK Kawasaki Frontale (JPN) 185
22 Yuji NAKAZAWA 25/02/1978 DF Yokohama F Marinos (JPN) 187
23 Yoshikatsu KAWAGUCHI 15/08/1975 GK Jubilo Iwata (JPN) 180

Coach: Takeshi OKADA (JPN)

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