group, player, coach, date… all about the team

Calendar (French time) in group E:

November 23: Germany-Japan, at the Khalifa International Stadium (2 p.m., beIN Sports 1)

November 27: Japan-Costa Rica, at the Ahmad-Ben-Ali stadium (11 a.m., beIN Sports 1)

1er December: Japan-Spain, at the Khalifa International Stadium (8 p.m., TF1 and beIN Sports 1)

Their nickname. The Samurai Blueno need for translation, the players playing in blue and white.

The group of 26:

Guardians: Shuichi Gonda, Eiji Kawashima, Daniel Schmidt.

Defenders: Yuto Nagatomo, Maya Yoshida, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Hiroki Sakai, Shogo Taniguchi, Ko Itakura, Miki Yamane, Hiroki Ito, Shuto Machino.

Midfielders: Wataru Endo, Hidemasa Morita, Ao Tanaka, Daichi Kamada, Junya Ito, Kaoru Mitoma, Takumi Minamino, Yuki Soma, Gaku Shibasaki, Takefusa Kubo, Ritsu Doan.

Forwards: Daizen Maeda, Takuma Asano, Ayase Ueda.

Better Qatar than ever. Japan arrive in Qatar for their seventh consecutive world campaign. A competition that has been quite successful for them for twenty years, since the Japanese selection reached the round of 16 in 2002, 2010 and 2018. The Japanese qualified for the World Cup in Qatar thanks to their victory (2-0) against Australia in March.

The selector. The former midfielder of Sanfrecce Hiroshima (1987-2001) – club with which he won three Japanese championship titles between 2012 and 2015 as coach -, Hajime Moriyasu54, took the reins of the national team in the summer of 2018. It will therefore be the first World Cup for Moriyasu at the head of the Samuraï Blue, which he led to the final of the FIFA Cup. Asia of Nations in 2019 (defeat against Qatar 3-1), the last competition to date for Japan.

Japan soccer team coach Hajime Moriyasu on September 27 before a friendly match against Ecuador.

Summary note from the cabinet Le Monde

The strong points. Since the 1998 World Cup in France, the Japanese have regularly invited themselves to the celebrations of major international competitions. Flagship nation of the Asian continent with Iran, the country of the Rising Sun can also count on its foreign legion of players who have proven themselves in the various European championships, like the right side Hiroki Sakai, with 185 games with Olympique de Marseille between 2016 and 2021, or Arsenal’s libero Takehiro Tomiyasu. More than individuals, it is the Japanese collective that Spain and Germany will have to be wary of.

The weak spots. Japan’s main handicap is to have fallen into the “group of death”. Eliminating La Roja or Mannschaft is almost an impossible mission for the Samuraï Blue, who had nevertheless almost played a bad trick on Belgium four years ago in the round of 16 of the Russian World Cup (led 2-0, the Red Devils s were imposed in stoppage time). The logic of the strongest, again, should be respected.

Cabinet rating (out of 5): 3

Twenty-fourth nation in the FIFA rankings, Japan arrives in Qatar with measured objectives. Breaking the glass ceiling of the round of 16 in a World Cup would be a real feat for the Samurai Blue, who will already be able to judge their competitiveness against Germany and Spain, the two giants of group E.

Keep an eye on him:

Junya Ito (in red), here on September 18 against Monaco, has been the delight of the Stade de Reims attack since the start of the 2022-2023 Ligue 1 season.

Summer recruit of the Stade de Reims, Junya Ito learned his skills in Belgium, at KRC Genk, with whom he won, barely six months after his arrival, a title of Belgian champion in 2019. A creative winger equally at ease on both sides of the attack, the 29-year-old Japanese international (36 caps and 9 goals with Samuraï Blue) caught the eye of Reims recruiters.

“Junya has shown impressive statistical consistency, consistently finishing as the top passer in the leagues he has played in. He is also extremely skilful in front of goal.observes the general manager of the Stade de Reims, Mathieu Lacour, on the club’s website. Junya Ito is the thirteenth Japanese player to attempt the Ligue 1 adventure since Nozomi Hiroyama, with Montpellier, during the 2003-2004 season.

Imagine Arsene… that in Russia 2018, the Japan team came close to a resounding feat against Belgium in the round of 16 – losing 3-2 after leading 2-0 until the 70e minute. The Samurai Blue could have taken out their anger in the locker room, yet they distinguished themselves by making it nickel, where other selections are illustrated by their lack of civility. No bottle or sock was lying around, rubbish was thrown in the trash cans…

The Japanese players had even split a “thank you” in Russian written on a piece of paper. “What an example for all the teams, it’s a privilege to work with them”could not believe the general coordinator of FIFA, Priscilla Janssens, accustomed to other customs.


If you have decided to boycott…

The charms of Japan are not lacking to keep you away from your screen for a month. If you’re lucky enough to be on the Archipelago, take a selfie at the foot of Mount Fuji, get lost in the streets of sprawling Tokyo or “chill” on one of the island’s countless paradisiacal beaches. Okinawa. If you stayed in France, you could be satisfied with the exhibition on the calligraphy of Akeji Sumiyoshi at the Cernuschi museum, in Paris (until January 8, 2023), or, more simply, be satisfied with a sushi platter or ramen and the complete works of Kurosawa.

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