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World Cup: Japan team profile

Japan are preparing to take part in their seventh-successive World Cup when they take their place in Qatar.

They have been drawn in a tough group containing European heavyweights Spain and Germany, as well as Costa Rica, so it's no surprise to see them 10/3 to make the knockout stage.

Japan are ranked 24th in the world by FIFA and they comfortably qualified for the tournament via the Asian Football Confederation route, but they have few world stars and may struggle to impose themselves on the biggest international stage.

WhatWorld Cup
When20th November - 18th December 2022
How to watchAll matches will be shown on either the BBC or ITV
OddsBrazil 9/2, England 11/2, France 6/1, Argentina 7/1, Spain 8/1 

Japan final 26-man squad

Japan manager Hajime Moriyasu announced his final 26-man squad for the Qatar World Cup on November 1:


  • Eiji Kawashima (Strasbourg)
  • Shuichi Gonda (Shimizu S-Pulse)
  • Daniel Schmidt (Sint-Truden)


  • Yuti Nagatomo (FC Tokyo)
  • Maya Yoshida (c) (Schalke 04)
  • Hiroki Sakai (Urawa Red Diamonds)
  • Takehiro Tomiyasu (Arsenal)
  • Yuta Nakayama (Huddersfield Town)
  • Miki Yamane (Kawasaki Frontale)
  • Shogo Taniguchi (Kawasaki Frontale)
  • Ko Itakura (Borussia Monchengladbach)
  • Hiroki Ito (VfB Stuttgart)


  • Gaku Shibasaki (Leganes)
  • Wataru Endo (VfB Stuttgart)
  • Takumi Minamino (Monaco)
  • Junya Ito (Reims)
  • Ritsu Doan (SC Freiburg)
  • Daichi Kamada (Eintracht Frankfurt)
  • Takefusa Kubo (Real Sociedad)
  • Hidemasa Morita (Sporting CP)
  • Ao Tanaka (Fortuna Dusseldorf)
  • Kaoru Mitoma (Brighton & Hove Albion)
  • Yuki Soma (Nagoya Grampus)


  • Takuma Asano (VfL Bochum)
  • Ayase Ueda (Cercle Brugge)
  • Daizen Maeda (Celtic)

What is Japan's World Cup record?

World Cup 2022 in Qatar will be the seventh-successive time Japan have featured in the major tournament, but they have never got past the last-16 stage.

They have progressed from their group into the last 16 three times previously. In 2002, when joint hosts with South Korea, they topped their group following a draw against Belgium and wins over Tunisia and Russia before they were eliminated by Turkey 1-0 in the round of 16.

In 2010 in South Africa they beat Cameroon and Denmark to finish second in Group E before going out in the first knockout round to Paraguay on penalties.

It was a familiar tale of last-16 woe four years ago in Russia, too, when they finished second in their group again but memorably fell to Belgium, losing 3-2 after being 2-0 in front.

Last 162002, 2010 and 2018
Group stage1998, 2006 and 2014

How did Japan qualify?

Japan comfortably made it to Qatar after finishing second in Group B, a point behind Saudi Arabia, in their AFC qualifying campaign.

They won seven of their 10 group matches to finish seven points clear of third-placed Australia, impressively winning away from home against the Aussies, Oman, China and Vietnam without conceding a goal.

A squad without the vast majority of their European-based players was recently victorious in the East Asian Football Championship on home soil. Japan came out on top in the round-robin four-team event thanks to wins over South Korea and Hong Kong and a draw with China.

Who is in Japan's group?

Japan have the fearsome prospect of taking on four-time world champions Germany and 2010 World Cup winners Spain in Group E, while Costa Rica are their other group opponents in Qatar.

They face Germany in the opening game in the group on 23rd November when Germany are 1/3 to triumph, a draw is 15/4 and a Japan win is 9/1.

A clash with Costa Rica follows on 27th November before Japan round off their group campaign with a tough test against Spain on 1st December.

Who is Japan's manager?

Hajime Moriyasu has been in charge of Japan for four years, stepping up from his dual role as assistant boss and Under-23 manager after previous coach Akira Nishino left in the wake of their World Cup 2018 last-16 stage exit.

The 53-year-old is a former midfielder who made more than 250 appearances in 14 years for J-League side Sanfrecce Hiroshima and he was capped 35 times for Japan between 1992 and 1996.

He began his managerial career in the familiar surroundings of Sanfrecce Hiroshima in 2012 and was in charge for five years, during which time he won the J-League three times.

Moriyasu was then appointed Japan Under-23 coach in 2017 and was in charge of the side that played at home in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

He has a win percentage 69.09 since being in charge of the Japan senior side, with a record that reads: played 55, won 38, drew seven, lost 10.

Who is Japan's star player?

Takumi Minamino has 17 goals from 42 caps and is Japan's best-known player following a two-and-a-half year spell with Premier League outfit Liverpool.

After impressing for RB Salzburg, Minamino joined the Reds in January 2020 but he struggled to force his way into Jurgen Klopp's starting line-up and was loaned out to Southampton for the second half of the 2020/21 campaign.

He returned to Anfield last season and continued to play a bit-part role, scoring some important goals to help his side win both domestic cups, before sealing a move to Ligue 1 outfit Monaco earlier this summer.

Who could be Japan's breakout star?

Takehiro Tomiyasu began to establish himself at Arsenal last season and the 23-year-old has made 22 senior appearances in all for the Gunners since joining from Italian side Bologna in 2021.

His club campaign was ended early by a hamstring injury last term but the defender is closing in on a return to fitness and is expected to be a key member of Mikel Arteta's squad in 2022/23.

Tomiyasu has 26 caps for Japan already, scoring one goal and, provided he stays fit, should be one of the first names on the teamsheet in Qatar.

What is Japan's predicted line-up and tactics?

Japan's predicted line-up (4-5-1): Shuichi Gonda; Takehiro Tomiyasu, Maya Yoshida, Ko Itakura, Miki Yamane; Genki Haraguchi, Hidemasa Morita, Takuma Asano, Junya Ito, Takumi Minamino; Yuyu Osako.

Japan have a workmanlike-look to them overall but they do have a smattering of quality players which will hope to combine well at the World Cup.

They conceded just four goals in their Group B qualifying campaign with experienced Schalke centre-back Maya Yoshida a commanding presence, while Junya Ito, who scored four goals in qualifying and has recently joined Reims in France, is another of their stand-out performers.

Minamino will be relied upon for creativity in the final third, while Vissel Kobe forward Yuya Osako, who has 25 goals from 57 caps for Japan, is among their main goal threats.

How far can Japan go in Qatar?

Considering their international pedigree and past performances in World Cups, Germany and Spain will be favourites to beat Japan in the group and an early exit from the tournament could well be on the cards.

However, if Moriyasu's side can avoid defeat in their opener and then get a positive result against Costa Rica, who are ranked 10 places below Japan in the world rankings, then earning a place in the last 16 could be achievable.

Japan are 250/1 to stun the world and win the World Cup, they are 9/1 to reach the quarter-finals, and 10/1 to win their group.

Getting beyond the first knockout stage has proved too difficult in the past for stronger Japan sides than the current one, though, so it seems highly unlikely they will make it to the latter stages of the tournament.

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