Currently, Japan is holding the 60th position in the FIFA rankings. They are making an appearance in Russia for their 6th time in the World Cup tournament.
The qualifiers were not a smooth qualification run. Nonetheless, Japan did what they had to do and qualified for the global finals in Russia. Notably, Japan qualified for their sixth consecutive World Cup with authoritative performances in the games that mattered. However, the team encountered hiccups along the way to qualifying for Russia. For example, Japan was thrashed at home by the UAE.
Having defeated Australia and Saudi Arabia to top Group B I the Asian qualifiers, Japan will be looking forward to having a fruitful journey to Russia. In their international warm-up matches, Japan has been inconsistent with 2 loses against Ghana and Ukraine as well as a draw against Mali. This is a worrying trend considering that these 3 teams are not even on the fixtures in Russia.
This is a clear indication that Japan should really get focused and reconsidered restructuring their mode of play. Otherwise, they will not see the light of the day at the Russian edition of the world cup.
According to analysts, the team is far from settled despite some vital expected after the sacking of Coach Vahid Halilhodzic and deployment of Akira Nishino.
Maya Yoshida is a stylish and skilled center-back who has been one of the cornerstones of Japan’s team over two FIFA World Cup campaigns. He is currently at Southampton and his defending skills are impeccable.
Leicester’s Shinji Okazaki is famous for his striking power and will definitely be among the first 11 players in any team’s fixture.
Germany based Shinji Kagawa who plays the midfield position at Dortmund have been included in the squad for Russia.
Unfortunately, Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder and Japan’s influential captain Makoto Hasebe may play for limited minutes per game because of an injury acquired late last year.
The History of Japan at the World Cup
The Russian edition of the World Cup is the sixth consecutive competition for Japan. In 2014, Japan was unfortunate to be edged out of the tournament at the group stages after failing to win any of their 3 matches.
2002 and 2010 World Cup tournaments were the best for the Samurai Blue as they reached the round of 16.
With Poland, Senegal and Colombia being on Japan’s neck, it is evident that may have to do exceedingly great at the group stage if they want to progress in the tournament. With the latest engagement of talented and energetic youngsters in the squad, the team may have a better performance.