Japan national football team

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 Japan
Shirt badge/Association crest
Nickname(s) サムライ・ブルー
(Samurai Blue)
(Zac Japan)
Association 日本サッカー協会
(Japan Football Association)
Sub-confederation EAFF (East Asia)
Confederation AFC (Asia)
Head coach Alberto Zaccheroni
Captain Makoto Hasebe
Most caps Yasuhito Endō (141)
Top scorer Kunishige Kamamoto (80)
Home stadium Saitama Stadium 2002
FIFA code JPN
FIFA ranking 47 Increase 1
Highest FIFA ranking 9 (February 1998)
Lowest FIFA ranking 66 (December 1992)
Elo ranking 25
Highest Elo ranking 8 (August 2001, March 2002)
Lowest Elo ranking 112 (September 1962)
First colours
Second colours
First international
 Japan 0–5 China Republic of China (1912–1949)
(Tokyo; 9 May 1917)
Biggest win
 Japan 15–0 Philippines 
(Tokyo; 27 September 1967)
Biggest defeat
 Japan 2–15 Philippines 
(Tokyo; 10 May 1917)
World Cup
Appearances 5 (First in 1998)
Best result Round of 16, 2002, 2010
Asian Cup
Appearances 7 (First in 1988)
Best result Champions, 1992, 2000, 2004, 2011
Copa América
Appearances 1 (First in 1999)
Best result Round 1, 1999
Confederations Cup
Appearances 4 (First in 1995)
Best result Runners-Up, 2001

The Japan national football team (サッカー日本代表 Soccer Nippon Daihyō?) represents Japan in association football and is operated by the Japan Football Association (JFA), the governing body for association football in Japan. Their head coach is Alberto Zaccheroni.

Japan is considered one of the most successful football teams in Asia, having qualified for the last five consecutive FIFA World Cups with second round advancements in 2002 & 2010, and having won the AFC Asian Cup a record four times in 1992, 2000, 2004 & 2011. To this, they add a 2001 FIFA Confederations Cup second place.

The Japanese team is commonly known by the fans and media as Soccer Nippon Daihyō (サッカー日本代表?), Nippon Daihyō (日本代表?), or Daihyō (代表?) as abbreviated expressions. Although the team does not have an official nickname as such, it is often known by the name of the manager. For example, under Takeshi Okada, the team was known as Okada Japan (岡田ジャパン Okada Japan?).[1] Recently the team has been known or nicknamed as the "Samurai Blue", while news media still refer it to by manager's last name, as "Zaccheroni Japan" (ザッケローニジャパン Zakkerōni Japan?), or "Zac Japan" (ザックジャパン Zakku Japan?) in short.

History[edit]

Japan against Brazil at Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund, Germany in the 2006 FIFA World Cup

Japan's first major achievement in international football came in the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, where the team won the bronze medal. Although this result earned the sport increased recognition in Japan, the absence of a professional domestic league hindered its growth and Japan would not qualify for the FIFA World Cup until 30 years later.[2]

In 1991, the owners of the semi-professional Japan Soccer League agreed to disband the league and re-form as the professional J. League, partly to raise the sport's profile and to strengthen the national team program. With the launch of the new league in 1993, interest in football and the national team grew.

However, in its first attempt to qualify with professional players, Japan narrowly missed a ticket to the 1994 FIFA World Cup after failing to beat Iraq in the final match of the qualification round, remembered by fans as the Agony of Doha.

The nation's first ever FIFA World Cup appearance was in 1998, where they lost all three matches. Japan's first two fixtures went 1–0 in favor of Argentina and Croatia, despite playing well in both games. Their campaign ended with an unexpected 2–1 defeat to rank outsiders Jamaica.

Four years later, Japan co-hosted the 2002 FIFA World Cup with South Korea. Despite being held to a 2–2 draw by Belgium in their opening game, the Japanese team advanced to the second round with a 1–0 win over Russia and a 2–0 victory against Tunisia. However, they subsequently exited the tournament during the Round of 16, after losing 1–0 to eventual third-place finishers Turkey.

On June 8, 2005, Japan qualified for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, its third consecutive World Cup, by beating North Korea 2–0 on neutral ground. However, Japan failed to advance to the Round of 16 after finishing the group without a win, losing to Australia 1–3, drawing Croatia 0–0 and losing to Brazil 1–4.

Japan has had considerably more success in the Asian Cup, taking home the winner's trophy in four of the last six finals, in 1992, 2000, 2004 and 2011. Their principal continental rivals are South Korea, followed by Saudi Arabia, and most recently Australia.

Japan is the only team from outside the Americas to participate in the Copa América, having been invited in 1999 and 2011.[3]

During the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification, in the fourth round of the Asian Qualifiers, Japan became the first team other than the host South Africa to qualify after defeating Uzbekistan 1–0 away. Japan was put in Group E along with the Netherlands, Denmark and Cameroon.[4] Japan won its opening game of the 2010 FIFA World Cup defeating Cameroon 1–0 but subsequently lost to the Netherlands 0–1 before defeating Denmark 3–1 to advance to the next round against Paraguay. In the first knockout round Japan were eliminated from the competition following penalties after a 0–0 draw against Paraguay.

After the World Cup, head coach Takeshi Okada resigned. He was replaced by former Juventus and AC Milan coach Alberto Zaccheroni. In his first few matches, Japan recorded victories over Guatemala (2–1) and Paraguay (1–0), as well as one of their best ever results – a 1–0 victory over Argentina.

At the start of 2011 Japan participated in the 2011 AFC Asian Cup in Qatar. On 29 January, they beat Australia 1–0 in the final after extra time, their fourth Asian Cup triumph and allowing them to qualify for FIFA Confederations Cup.[5]

Japan then started their road to World Cup 2014 Brazil with numerous qualifiers. Throughout they suffered only two losses to Uzbekistan and Jordan, and drawing against Australia. Afterwards on October 12, Japan picked up a historic 1–0 victory over France, a team they had never before defeated. After a 1–1 draw with Australia they qualified for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, becoming the first nation (outside of Brazil, who is hosting the tournament) to qualify.

Japan started their 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup with a 3–0 loss to Brazil. They were then eliminated from the competition after losing to Italy 3–4 but received praise for their style of play in the match. They lost their final game 1-2 against Mexico and finished 4th place in Group A in the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup. One month later, in the EAFF East Asian Cup, they started out with a 3-3 draw to China. They then beat Australia 3-2 and beat South Korea 2-1 in the 3rd and final match in the 2013 EAFF East Asian Cup to claim their first title in history.

Team image[edit]

Fan Chanting[edit]

Japanese national team supporters are known for chanting "Nippon Ole" (Nippon is the Japanese term for Japan) at home matches.[6]

Kits and colours[edit]

Japan's current kit is provided by Adidas, the team's official apparel sponsor. The home kit consists of a Navy blue jersey with a red line down the center with 'all support for Japan' faintly written on it, navy blue shorts with bright blue patches on the side and navy blue socks with a red line down the center. The away kit consists of a white jersey, white shorts, and white socks all with. In 2011, Japan switched temporarily the color of the numbers from white to gold.

Prior to Adidas, the team's official apparel sponsor were the Japanese brand Asics and Puma. The national team kit design has gone through several alterations in the past. In the early 80s, the kit was white with blue trim. When Japan was coached by Kenzo Yokoyama (1988–1991) the kits were red and white, matching the colors of Japan's national flag. The kits worn for the 1992 AFC Asian Cup consisted of white stripes (stilized to form a wing) with red diamonds. During Japan's first World Cup appearance in 1998, the national team kits were blue jerseys with red and white flame designs on the sleeves, and designed by JFA (with the sponsor alternating each year between Asics, Puma and Adidas).

Japan uses blue and white rather than red and white due to a superstition. In its first major international competition, the 1936 Summer Olympics, Japan used a blue kit in the match against Sweden and Japan won the match by a score of 3–2.[7]

Also, the Japanese Football Association logo has some yellow, it represents the fair play (honesty) in Japanese tradition, all surrounding by blue on the jersey that means youth in Japanese tradition, that also explains the colours of the uniform which could be translated as "the fair play purpose supported on the power of youth".

Home
1917
1950-1975
1975-1979
1979-1980
1980-1983
1983-1986
1986-1987
1988–91
1991-1992
1992–96
1996–98
1999–2000
2001
2002–03
2004–05
2006–07
2008–09
2010–11
2012–13
2014–
Away
1980-1981
1984-1985
1985
1999–2000
2001
2002–03
2004–05
2006–07
2008–09
2010–11
2012–13
2014–

Sponsorship[edit]

Japan has one of the highest sponsorship incomes for a national squad. In 2006 their sponsorship income amounted to over 16.5 million pounds.

Primary sponsors include Adidas, Kirin, Saison Card International, FamilyMart, JAL, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance, Sony, Asahi Shinbun, Konami, Mizuho Financial and Audi.[8]

Mascot[edit]

The mascots are "Karappe" (カラッペ) and "Karara" (カララ), two Yatagarasu wearing the Japan national football team uniform. The mascots were designed by Japanese manga artist Susumu Matsushita. Each year when a new kit is launched, the mascots change uniforms.

Competitive record[edit]

All time results[edit]

Recent results and fixtures[edit]

Date Opponent Result Score* Venue Competition
30 May 2013  Bulgaria L 0–2 Japan Toyota Stadium, Toyota, Aichi, Japan International Friendly (Kirin Challenge Cup 2013)
4 Jun 2013  Australia D 1–1 Japan Saitama Stadium 2002, Saitama, Japan 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification (AFC) Fourth Round
11 Jun 2013  Iraq W 1–0 Qatar Grand Hamad Stadium, Doha, Qatar 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification (AFC) Fourth Round
15 Jun 2013  Brazil L 0–3 Brazil Estádio Nacional de Brasília, Brasília, Brazil 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup
19 Jun 2013  Italy L 3–4 Brazil Arena Cidade da Copa, Recife, Brazil 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup
22 Jun 2013  Mexico L 1–2 Brazil Mineirão, Belo Horizonte, Brazil 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup
21 Jul 2013  China PR D 3–3 South Korea Seoul World Cup Stadium, Seoul, South Korea 2013 EAFF East Asian Cup
25 Jul 2013  Australia W 3–2 South Korea Hwaseong Stadium, Hwaseong, South Korea 2013 EAFF East Asian Cup
28 Jul 2013  South Korea W 2–1 South Korea Jamsil Olympic Stadium, Seoul, South Korea 2013 EAFF East Asian Cup
14 Aug 2013  Uruguay L 2–4 Japan Miyagi Stadium, Rifu, Miyagi, Japan International Friendly (Kirin Challenge Cup 2013)
6 Sep 2013  Guatemala W 3–0 Japan Nagai Stadium, Osaka, Japan International Friendly (Kirin Challenge Cup 2013)
10 Sep 2013  Ghana W 3–1 Japan International Stadium Yokohama, Yokohama, Japan International Friendly (Kirin Challenge Cup 2013)
11 Oct 2013  Serbia L 0–2 Serbia Karađorđe Stadium, Novi Sad, Serbia International Friendly
15 Oct 2013  Belarus L 0–1 Belarus Torpedo Stadium, Zhodino, Belarus International Friendly
16 Nov 2013  Netherlands D 2–2 Belgium Cristal Arena, Genk, Belgium International Friendly
19 Nov 2013  Belgium W 3–2 Belgium King Baudouin Stadium, Brussels, Belgium International Friendly
5 Mar 2014  New Zealand W 4–2 Japan National Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan International Friendly (Kirin Challenge Cup 2014)
27 May 2014  Cyprus Japan Saitama Stadium 2002, Saitama, Japan International Friendly (Kirin Challenge Cup 2014)
2 Jun 2014  Costa Rica United States Ray Jay Stadium, Tampa, Florida, United States [9] International Friendly
6 Jun 2014  Zambia United States Ray Jay Stadium, Tampa, Florida, United States International Friendly
14 Jun 2014  Ivory Coast Brazil Arena Pernambuco, Recife, Brazil 2014 FIFA World Cup
19 Jun 2014  Greece Brazil Arena das Dunas, Natal, Brazil 2014 FIFA World Cup
24 Jun 2014  Colombia Brazil Arena Pantanal, Cuiabá, Brazil 2014 FIFA World Cup
5 Sep 2014 TBA Japan Sapporo Dome, Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan International Friendly (Kirin Challenge Cup 2014)
9 Sep 2014 TBA Japan Nissan Stadium, Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan International Friendly (Kirin Challenge Cup 2014)
14 Nov 2014 TBA Japan Toyota Stadium, Toyota, Aichi, Japan International Friendly (Kirin Challenge Cup 2014)
18 Nov 2014 TBA Japan Nagai Stadium, Osaka, Japan International Friendly (Kirin Challenge Cup 2014)
12 Jan 2015 2014 AFC Challenge Cup winner Australia Newcastle Stadium, Newcastle, Australia 2015 AFC Asian Cup
16 Jan 2015  Iraq Australia Brisbane Stadium, Brisbane, Australia 2015 AFC Asian Cup
20 Jan 2015  Jordan Australia Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Melbourne, Australia 2015 AFC Asian Cup

* Japan score always listed first

      Win       Draw       Loss

Coaching[edit]

Position Name
Head Coach Italy Alberto Zaccheroni
Assistant Coach Italy Stefano Agresti
Fitness Coach Italy Eugenio Albarella
Goalkeeping Coach Italy Maurizio Guido
Technical Assistant Japan Ichiro Wada
Technical Assistant Italy Giampaolo Colautti

Players[edit]

Current squad[edit]

Squad selected for the Kirin Challenge Cup match vs. New Zealand on 5 March 2014.[10]

Caps and goals as of 5 March 2014, after match against New Zealand.
0#0 Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club
1 1GK Eiji Kawashima (1983-03-20) 20 March 1983 (age 31) 54 0 Belgium Standard Liège
12 1GK Shūsaku Nishikawa (1986-06-18) 18 June 1986 (age 27) 12 0 Japan Urawa Red Diamonds
23 1GK Shūichi Gonda (1989-03-03) 3 March 1989 (age 25) 2 0 Japan FC Tokyo
3 2DF Yūichi Komano (1981-07-25) 25 July 1981 (age 32) 78 1 Japan Júbilo Iwata
15 2DF Yasuyuki Konno (1983-01-25) 25 January 1983 (age 31) 78 1 Japan Gamba Osaka
5 2DF Yūto Nagatomo (1986-09-12) 12 September 1986 (age 27) 67 3 Italy Internazionale
22 2DF Maya Yoshida (1988-08-24) 24 August 1988 (age 25) 38 2 England Southampton
19 2DF Masahiko Inoha (1985-08-28) 28 August 1985 (age 28) 20 1 Japan Júbilo Iwata
21 2DF Hiroki Sakai (1990-04-12) 12 April 1990 (age 24) 15 0 Germany Hannover 96
2 2DF Gōtoku Sakai (1991-03-14) 14 March 1991 (age 23) 12 0 Germany Stuttgart
6 2DF Masato Morishige (1987-05-21) 21 May 1987 (age 26) 7 1 Japan FC Tokyo
7 3MF Yasuhito Endō (1980-01-28) 28 January 1980 (age 34) 141 12 Japan Gamba Osaka
10 3MF Shinji Kagawa (1989-03-17) 17 March 1989 (age 25) 54 17 England Manchester United
4 3MF Keisuke Honda (1986-06-13) 13 June 1986 (age 27) 53 20 Italy Milan
13 3MF Hajime Hosogai (1986-06-10) 10 June 1986 (age 27) 26 1 Germany Hertha Berlin
8 3MF Hiroshi Kiyotake (1989-11-12) 12 November 1989 (age 24) 24 1 Germany Nürnberg
16 3MF Hotaru Yamaguchi (1990-10-06) 6 October 1990 (age 23) 9 0 Japan Cerezo Osaka
20 3MF Manabu Saitō (1990-04-04) 4 April 1990 (age 24) 4 1 Japan Yokohama F. Marinos
14 3MF Toshihiro Aoyama (1986-02-22) 22 February 1986 (age 28) 4 0 Japan Sanfrecce Hiroshima
9 4FW Shinji Okazaki (1986-04-16) 16 April 1986 (age 28) 73 38 Germany Mainz 05
18 4FW Yūya Ōsako (1990-05-18) 18 May 1990 (age 23) 7 3 Germany 1860 München
17 4FW Masato Kudo (1990-05-06) 6 May 1990 (age 23) 4 2 Japan Kashiwa Reysol
11 4FW Yōhei Toyoda (1985-04-11) 11 April 1985 (age 29) 4 0 Japan Sagan Tosu

Recent call-ups[edit]

The following players have also been called up to the Japan squad within the last 12 months.

Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club Latest call-up
GK Takuto Hayashi (1982-08-09) 9 August 1982 (age 31) 0 0 Japan Sanfrecce Hiroshima 2013 EAFF East Asian Cup
DF Atsuto Uchida (1988-03-27) 27 March 1988 (age 26) 65 1 Germany Schalke 04 v.  Netherlands, 16 November 2013
DF Tomoaki Makino (1987-05-11) 11 May 1987 (age 26) 14 1 Japan Urawa Red Diamonds v.  Ghana, 10 September 2013
DF Yūzō Kurihara (1983-09-18) 18 September 1983 (age 30) 20 3 Japan Yokohama F. Marinos 2013 EAFF East Asian Cup
DF Yūhei Tokunaga (1983-09-25) 25 September 1983 (age 30) 9 0 Japan FC Tokyo 2013 EAFF East Asian Cup
DF Ryōta Moriwaki (1986-04-06) 6 April 1986 (age 28) 3 0 Japan Urawa Red Diamonds 2013 EAFF East Asian Cup
DF Kazuhiko Chiba (1985-06-21) 21 June 1985 (age 28) 1 0 Japan Sanfrecce Hiroshima 2013 EAFF East Asian Cup
DF Daisuke Suzuki (1990-01-29) 29 January 1990 (age 24) 1 0 Japan Kashiwa Reysol 2013 EAFF East Asian Cup
MF Makoto Hasebe (1984-01-18) 18 January 1984 (age 30) 77 2 Germany Nürnberg v.  Netherlands, 16 November 2013
MF Hideto Takahashi (1987-10-17) 17 October 1987 (age 26) 7 0 Japan FC Tokyo v.  Netherlands, 16 November 2013
MF Yōjiro Takahagi (1986-08-02) 2 August 1986 (age 27) 2 0 Japan Sanfrecce Hiroshima 2013 EAFF East Asian Cup
MF Takahiro Ōgihara (1991-10-05) 5 October 1991 (age 22) 1 0 Japan Cerezo Osaka 2013 EAFF East Asian Cup
MF Kengo Nakamura (1980-10-31) 31 October 1980 (age 33) 68 6 Japan Kawasaki Frontale 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup
FW Takashi Inui (1988-06-02) 2 June 1988 (age 25) 12 0 Germany Eintracht Frankfurt v.  Netherlands, 16 November 2013
FW Yōichirō Kakitani (1990-01-03) 3 January 1990 (age 24) 9 4 Japan Cerezo Osaka v.  Netherlands, 16 November 2013
FW Mike Havenaar (1987-05-20) 20 May 1987 (age 26) 17 4 Netherlands Vitesse v.  Belarus, 15 October 2013
FW Genki Haraguchi (1991-05-09) 9 May 1991 (age 22) 3 0 Japan Urawa Red Diamonds 2013 EAFF East Asian Cup
FW Hiroki Yamada (1988-12-27) 27 December 1988 (age 25) 2 0 Japan Júbilo Iwata 2013 EAFF East Asian Cup
FW Ryōichi Maeda (1981-10-09) 9 October 1981 (age 32) 33 10 Japan Júbilo Iwata 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup
FW Keigo Higashi (1990-07-20) 20 July 1990 (age 23) 0 0 Japan FC Tokyo v.  Australia, 4 June 2013

Records[edit]

As of 5 March 2014
Statistics below are from matches which the Japan Football Association consider as official.[11][12]

Rosters[edit]

Managers[edit]

As of 14 August 2013
Manager Period Record
Matches Won Draw Lost Win %
Japan Hirokazu Ninomiya 1951 3 1 1 1 33.33%
Japan Shigemaru Takenokoshi 1951–1956, 1958–1959 24 6 6 12 25%
Japan Hidetoki Takahashi 1957, 1960–1962 14 3 2 9 21.43%
Japan Taizo Kawamoto 1958 2 0 0 2 0%
Japan Ken Naganuma 1962–1969, 1972–1976 73 34 12 27 46.57%
Japan Shunichiro Okano 1970–1971 19 11 2 6 57.90%
Japan Hiroshi Ninomiya 1976–1978 27 6 6 15 22.22%
Japan Yukio Shimomura 1979–1980 14 8 4 2 57.14%
Japan Masashi Watanabe 1980 3 2 0 1 66.67%
Japan Saburō Kawabuchi 1980–1981 10 3 2 5 30%
Japan Takaji Mori 1981–1985 43 22 5 16 51.16%
Japan Yoshinobu Ishii 1986–1987 17 11 2 4 64.70%
Japan Kenzo Yokoyama 1988–1991 24 5 7 12 20.83%
Netherlands Hans Ooft 1992–1993 27 17 6 4 62.96%
Brazil Falcão 1994 9 3 4 2 33.33%
Japan Shu Kamo 1994–1997 46 24 8 14 52.17%
Japan Takeshi Okada 1997–1998, 2007–2010 65 31 18 16 47.69%
France Philippe Troussier 1998–2002 50 23 15 12 46%
Brazil Zico 2002–2006 71 38 15 18 53.52%
Bosnia and Herzegovina Ivica Osim 2006–2007 20 13 2 5 65%
Italy Alberto Zaccheroni 2010– 51 29 11 11 56.86%

Competitions[edit]

*Denotes draws includes knockout matches decided on penalty shootouts. Red border indicates that the tournament was hosted on home soil. Gold, silver, bronze backgrounds indicates 1st, 2nd and 3rd finishes respectively. Bold text indicates best finish in tournament.

FIFA World Cup[edit]

FIFA World Cup Finals Record Qualifications Record
Year Result Position GP W D* L GS GA GP W D L GS GA
Uruguay 1930 Did Not Enter - - - - - -
Italy 1934 - - - - - -
France 1938 Withdrew - - - - - -
Brazil 1950 Banned - - - - - -
Switzerland 1954 Did Not Qualify 2 0 1 1 3 7
Sweden 1958 Did Not Enter - - - - - -
Chile 1962 Did Not Qualify 2 0 0 2 1 4
England 1966 Did Not Enter - - - - - -
Mexico 1970 Did Not Qualify 4 0 2 2 4 8
West Germany 1974 4 1 0 3 5 4
Argentina 1978 4 0 1 3 0 5
Spain 1982 4 2 0 2 4 2
Mexico 1986 8 5 1 2 15 5
Italy 1990 6 2 3 1 7 3
United States 1994 13 9 3 1 35 6
France 1998 Group Stage 31st 3 0 0 3 1 4 15 9 5 1 51 12
South KoreaJapan 2002 Round of 16 9th 4 2 1 1 5 3 - - - - - -
Germany 2006 Group Stage 28th 3 0 1 2 2 7 12 11 0 1 25 5
South Africa 2010 Round of 16 9th 4 2 1 1 4 2 14 8 4 2 23 9
Brazil 2014 Qualified TBD 14 8 3 3 30 8
Russia 2018 To be determined - - - - - -
Qatar 2022 To be determined - - - - - -
Total 4/20 9th 14 4 3 7 12 16 102 54 24 24 203 78

AFC Asian Cup[edit]