Japan - Team Profile

It was a disappointing debut at France ‘98, with three defeats, but there has been progress since

Japan players huddle during a send-off ceremony for the World Cup  in Tokyo on May 25th.  Photograph: Toru Hanai / Reuters

Japan players huddle during a send-off ceremony for the World Cup in Tokyo on May 25th. Photograph: Toru Hanai / Reuters

Thu, Jun 5, 2014, 10:16

Manager: Alberto Zaccheroni 

 
Best finish: Second rounds (2002, 2010) 
 
World Cup record: P 17, W 4, D 4, L 9
 
History
It was a disappointing debut at France ‘98, with three defeats, but there has been progress since. A second-round finish in 2002 was a qualified success. They failed to make it out of the group stages in Germany, but made the second round again in their fourth consecutive World Cup in South Africa, beating Denmark and Cameroon before losing to Paraguay on penalties in the last 16. 
 
Whiteboard
The Asian champions qualified for Brazil with a settled, experienced 4-2-3-1. The creativity is in the three, where AC Milan’s Keisuke Honda dictates from the middle and Man United’s Shinji Kagawa and Mainz’s Shinji Okazaki (38 goals) support a lone striker. The midfield is anchored by Makoto Hasebe. Full-backs Atsuto Uchida and Yuto Nagatomo offer forward momentum.  
 
All Star - Keisuke Honda
Nobody can read this guy’s name without belching out a bunch of ‘engine’ puns but fear not, we’ll steer clear. Honda could hold the keys to Japan’s tournament. The Milan man is by common accord an integral part of their make-up as he shuttles between the lines directing attacks. With 20 goals in 56 caps he’s already a legend and when he’s standing over a deadball it often serves as a prelude to something special.  
 
County Colours - Monaghan
 
Heavy hitters round their way, but yet to deliver on big stage. 
 
Pundit’s Corner - Ian Wright: “Not. A. Hope, man. Not. A. Hope! Good side, though, don’t get me wrong.” 
 
Prospects
Despite being a cohesive attacking unit there were results in the qualifiers that hinted at an underlying fragility, defeats to North Korea, Uzbekistan and Jordan. They’ve drawn with the Netherlands (2-2) and beaten the highly-rated Belgians (2-3) in friendlies, but their consistency. or lack of it, may let them down inGroup C, against Ivory Coast, Colombia and Greece. 
 
SQUAD
 
Goalkeepers: 1 Eiji Kawashima (Standard Liege, Bel), 12 Shusaku Nishikawa (Urawa Reds), 23 Shuichi Gonda (FC Tokyo).
 
Defenders: 2 Atsuto Uchida (Schalke 04, Ger), 3 Gotoku Sakai (VfB Stuttgart, Ger), 5 Yuto Nagatomo (Inter Milan, Ita), 6 Masato Morishige (FC Tokyo), 15 Yasuyuki Konno (Gamba Osaka), 19 Masahiko Inoha (Jubilo Iwata), 21 Hiroki Sakai (Hannover 96, Ger), 22 Maya Yoshida (Southampton, Eng).
 
Midfielders: 4 Keisuke Honda (AC Milan, Ita), 7 Yasuhito Endo (Gamba Osaka), 8 Hiroshi Kiyotake (FC Nuremberg, Ger), 10 Shinji Kagawa (Manchester United, Eng), 14 Toshihiro Aoyama (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), 16 Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka), 17 Makoto Hasebe (FC Nuremberg, Ger), 20 Manabu Saito (Yokohama F Marinos).
 
Forwards:  9 Shinji Okazaki (Mainz, Ger), 11 Yoichiro Kakitani (Cerezo Osaka), 13 Yoshito Okubo (Kawasaki Frontale), 18 Yuya Osako (TSV Munich 1860, Ger).
 
TEAM LINE-UPS
 
JAPAN (v Ivory Coast): 1 Eiji Kawashima; 2 Atsuto Uchida, 6 Masato Morishige (yc), 22 Maya Yoshida (yc), 5 Yuto Nagatomo; 17 Makoto Hasebe (7 Yasuhito Endo, 54 mins),16 Hotaru Yamaguchi; 9 Shinji Okazaki, 4 Keisuke Honda, 10 Shinji Kagawa (11 Yoichiro Kakitani, 86 mins); 18 Yuya Osako (13 Yoshito Okubo, 67 mins).
 
JAPAN (v Greece): 1 Eiji Kawashima; 2 Atsuto Uchida, 22 Maya Yoshida, 15 Yasuyuki Konno, 5 Yuto Nagatomo; 16 Hotaru Yamaguchi, 17 Makoto Hasebe (yc) (7 Yasuhito Endo, half-time); 13 Yoshito Okubo, 4 Keisuke Honda, 9 Shinji Okazaki; 18 Yuya Osako (10 Shinji Kagawa, 57 mins).
 
JAPAN (v Colombia): 1 Eiji Kawashima; 2 Atsuto Uchida, 22 Maya Yoshida, 15 Yasuyuki Konno (yc), 5 Yuto Nagatomo; 14 Toshihiro Aoyama (16 Hotaru Yamaguchi, 62 mins), 17 Makoto Hasebe; 9 Shinji Okazaki (11 Yoichiro Kakitani, 69 mins), 4 Keisuke Honda, 10 Shinji Kagawa (8 Hiroshi Kiyotake, 85 mins); 13 Yoshito Okubo.

 

Sign In

Forgot Password?

Sign Up

The name that will appear beside your comments.

Have an account? Sign In

Forgot Password?

Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In or Sign Up

Thank you

You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.

Hello, .

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

Thank you for registering. Please check your email to verify your account.

We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.