Japan national football team
(Japan Football Association)
|Sub-confederation||EAFF (East Asia)|
|Head coach||Javier Aguirre|
|Most caps||Yasuhito Endō (146)|
|Top scorer||Kunishige Kamamoto (80)|
|Home stadium||Saitama Stadium 2002|
|FIFA ranking||44 1 (14 August 2014)|
|Highest FIFA ranking||9 (February 1998)|
|Lowest FIFA ranking||66 (December 1992)|
|Elo ranking||29 (9 July 2014)|
|Highest Elo ranking||8 (August 2001, March 2002)|
|Lowest Elo ranking||112 (September 1962)|
| Japan 0–5 China
(Tokyo; 9 May 1917)
| Japan 15–0 Philippines
(Tokyo; 27 September 1967)
| Japan 2–15 Philippines
(Tokyo; 10 May 1917)
|Appearances||5 (First in 1998)|
|Best result||Round of 16: 2002 and 2010|
|Appearances||7 (First in 1988)|
|Best result||Champions: 1992, 2000, 2004 and 2011|
|Appearances||1 (First in 1999)|
|Best result||Group Stage: 1999|
|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 Javier Aguirre.
Japan is 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. The team has also finished second in the 2001 FIFA Confederations Cup.
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?). Recently the team has been known or nicknamed as the "Samurai Blue", while Japanese 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.
- 1 History
- 2 Team image
- 3 Competitive record
- 4 Recent results and fixtures
- 5 Coaching
- 6 Players
- 7 Managers
- 8 Competitions
- 9 Head-to-Head records against other countries
- 10 Team Records
- 11 Honors
- 12 See also
- 13 References
- 14 External links
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.
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 drawing with 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. Japan's first two fixtures went 1–0 in favor of Argentina and Croatia, despite playing well in both games. Their campaign ended with a 2–1 defeat to Jamaica.
Four years later, Japan co-hosted the 2002 FIFA World Cup with South Korea. After a 2–2 draw with 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, losing to Australia 1–3, drawing Croatia 0–0 and losing to Brazil 1–4.
Japan has had much 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.
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. 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.
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 the title. They came into the FIFA World Cup 2014 grouped with Ivory Coast, Greece, and Colombia. They fell in their first match to Ivory Coast 2-1 after allowing two goals in a two-minute span. They drew their second game to Greece 0-0. They faced Colombia in a much needed win and needed Greece to beat Ivory Coast. Greece beat Ivory Coast 2-1 but Japan could not perform well against Colombia and were beaten 1-4, eliminating them from the World Cup. Alberto Zaccheroni resigned as head coach after the FIFA World Cup.
1998 in France(Kazuyoshi Miura)
Kazuyoshi Miura who was the most popular and famous player in Japan at that time was not selected as the member. He is called Kazu, or king Kazu and many people in Japan appreciated his skill and charisma. He played in Brasil and Italy as a professional football player, so his career was really prominent of all Japanee footballers at that time. He also play an important role in the World Cup qualifying mutches and made a lot of goal, but as the matches passed, his performance becamed gradually lackluster. So some people in Japan started to say that Japan team don’t need Kazu. However, considering his blrilliant career and his influence on Japanese football world, he seemed to be supporsed to play at the World Cup matches. Thus the news of Kazu’s rejection aroused criticism all over Japan. His desire to play at the championship was so strong that when he was told his rejection and return to Japan, he spoke little and only said that his soul was left at the team. The coach of the team was Takeshi Okada. He were blamed for rejecting Kazu.Later Okada told why he didn't select Kazu. He said Kazu’s condition was not so good and Kazu seemed to be out of the plan for the victry. Instead of Kazu, Shinji Ono who was young and really talented player but have no past records. Ono played at a game against Jamaica only for about ten minutes. because he didn’t take main role in the team, Okada’s selection was controversial.
2010 in South Africa Repablic(Kawaguchi)
Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi ,who once was the main goalkeeper of the Japan national football team, but because of a serious injury ーright tibia diaphysis part bone fractureー hadn’t participated in Japanese League for eight months , was selected as the number of the Japan national football team. This surprised many people, but this idea wasn’t an unexpected idea according to Takeshi Okada, who was the manager of the Japan national football team in the 2010 World Cup at South Africa Repablic.He said he expected kawaguchi to be team’s moral support.This is because in the 2006 World Cup at Germany the man who was able to bring the team together was absent, which caused internal dissension. The meaning of dissension is “disagreement that causes the people in a group to argue about something that is important to them” according to the Merriam-Webstar Online (2009).Kawaguchi was the oldest person in the team, and his achievement and his personality was very great, so he was very suitable for the team’s moral support.His position was the third goalkeeper in the team, which meaned that he had no opportunity to participate in the game,but he never complained about it. In this way his selection was valid.Also he was willing to communicate with the younger players to forge a harmonious relationship. Thanks to this, all of the members were able to make a harmonious relationship,and they discussed the problem of the team and the point they didn’t agree to.As a result , they was able to understand what other players thought ,which brought the team a sense of unity. I think the main reason why the Japan national football team reached the top 16 is this kind of unity.So the selection of Kawaguchi is valid, or rather very wonderful.  
2014 in Brazil(Okubo Yoshito)
The 2014 FIFA World Cup is the 20th FIFA World Cup, which is taking place in Brazil. Yoshito Ōkubo had been chosen as the member of the Japanese national soccer team. This was the biggest surprise in 23-man selection. This was because he was included in an international team for the first time in more than two years. When the members of the Japanese national soccer team are announced, Alberto Zaccheroni, the coach of Japanese national soccer team, highly praised Okubo. Zaccheroni said, “With Okubo it’s maybe quicker to explain why I hadn’t chosen him until now,” “He’s a player with experience and a nose for goal, and someone who is capable of creating chances at any time.” “Until now I chose other players ahead of him so that they would have a chance to grow. Even though it went right up to the last moment, he was able to show me what I was looking for.” 
However, he could not make surprise. He participated in all game and tried to score a goal, but he scored no goal .June 25, the 2014 FIFA World Cup, which is the second time for Okubo, finished. The 3rd game against Colombia, Okubo plays from the first in the game. In the 9th minute in the first half of game, Okubo received a path from Hasebe at the front of the soccer goal and shot (but the shooting didn’t score as a point). Also, Okubo cooperated with Kagawa and broke Colombia’s defense, and positively tried a bicycle kick. Okubo looked back this game and said, “I have played positively rather than before. If only I could have played like this from beginning!” Also, Okubo seemed to feel satisfied and said,” I’m happy to realize that I can do.” 
Japanese national team supporters are known for chanting "Nippon Ole" (Nippon is the Japanese term for Japan) at home matches.
Kits and colours
Japan's current kit is provided by German company Adidas, the team's official apparel sponsor since 1999. The current contract with Adidas is set to end on March 31, 2015. In the beginning of 1 April, the new kit provider will be American manufacturer Nike.
The current home kit consists of a blue jersey with Japan's crest and flag on the chest, blue shorts with bright pink patches on the side and blue socks with pink tops. The away kit is neon yellow, accented with navy blue and orange. In 2011, Japan temporarily switched the color of the numbers from white to gold.
Prior to Adidas, Asics and Puma had been the team's official apparel sponsor. 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 (stylized 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 were 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.
Japan has one of the highest sponsorship incomes for a national squad. In 2006 their sponsorship income amounted to over 16.5 million pounds.
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.
All time results
Recent results and fixtures
* Japan score always listed first
Win Draw Loss
|Head Coach||Javier Aguirre|
|Assistant Coach||Stuart Gelling|
|Fitness Coach||Juan Iribarren Morras|
The following 23 players were called up for the 2014 Kirin Challenge Cup matches against Uruguay on 5 September and Venezuela on 9 September 2014.
Caps and goals as of 24 June 2014, after the match against Colombia.
The following players have also been called up to the Japan squad within the last 12 months.
- As of 24 June 2014
- Statistics below are from matches which the Japan Football Association consider as official.
- As of 5 March 2014
|Shigeyoshi Suzuki (1st)||1930||2||1||1||0||50%|
|Shigemaru Takenokoshi (1st)||1934||3||1||0||2||33.33%|
|Shigeyoshi Suzuki (2nd)||1936||2||1||1||0||50%|
|Shigemaru Takenokoshi (2nd)||1940||1||1||0||0||100%|
|Shigemaru Takenokoshi (3rd)||1954–56||12||2||4||6||16.66%|
|Shigemaru Takenokoshi (4th)||1958–59||12||4||2||6||33.33%|
|Ken Naganuma (1st)||1963–1969||31||18||7||6||58.06%|
|Ken Naganuma (2nd)||1972–1976||42||16||6||20||38.09%|
|Takeshi Okada (1st)||1997–1998||15||5||4||6||33.33%|
|Takeshi Okada (2nd)||2008–2010||50||26||13||11||52%|
|Hiromi Hara (caretaker)||2010||2||2||0||0||100%|
- *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
|FIFA World Cup Finals Record||Qualifications Record|
|Hosts / Year||Result||Position||GP||W||D*||L||GS||GA||GP||W||D||L||GS||GA|
|1930||Did Not Enter||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1954||Did Not Qualify||2||0||1||1||3||7|
|1958||Did Not Enter||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1962||Did Not Qualify||2||0||0||2||1||4|
|1966||Did Not Enter||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1970||Did Not Qualify||4||0||2||2||4||8|
|2002||Round of 16||9th||4||2||1||1||5||3||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|2010||Round of 16||9th||4||2||1||1||4||2||14||8||4||2||23||9|
|2018||To be determined||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|2022||To be determined||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Total||Round of 16||5/20||17||4||4||9||14||22||102||54||24||24||203||78|
AFC Asian Cup
FIFA Confederations Cup
Since 1992, the Olympic team has been drawn from a squad with a maximum of three players over 23 years age, and the achievements of this team are not generally regarded as part of the national team's records, nor are the statistics credited to the players' international records.
Japan is the only team from outside the Americas to participate in the Copa América, having been invited in both 1999 and 2011. However, Japan declined their invitation on May 16, 2011 after events related with the Tōhoku earthquake and difficulty to release some Japanese players from European teams to play as a replacement. On May 17, 2011, CONMEBOL invited Costa Rica to replace Japan in the competition, the Costa Rican Football Federation accepted their invitation later that day.
Head-to-Head records against other countries