Japan national football team
(Japan Football Association)
|Sub-confederation||EAFF (East Asia)|
|Most caps||Yasuhito Endō (152)|
|Top scorer||Kunishige Kamamoto (80)|
|FIFA ranking||55 (12 February 2015)|
|Highest FIFA ranking||9 (February 1998)|
|Lowest FIFA ranking||62 (February 2000)|
|Elo ranking||25 (1 Feb 2015)|
|Highest Elo ranking||8 (August 2001, March 2002)|
|Lowest Elo ranking||112 (September 1962)|
| Japan 5–3 Mexico
(Seoul; 9 May 1927)
| Japan 15–0 Philippines
(Tokyo; 27 September 1967)
| Italy 8–0 Japan
(Berlín; 10 June 1936)
|Appearances||5 (First in 1998)|
|Best result||Round of 16: 2002 and 2010|
|Appearances||8 (First in 1988)|
|Best result||Champions: 1992, 2000, 2004 and 2011|
|Appearances||3 (First in 1999)|
|Best result||Withdrew: 1999, 2011 and 2015|
|Appearances||4 (First in 1995)|
|Best result||Runners-up: 2001|
The Japan national soccer 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. The current head coach is vacant, as Javier Aguirre, who had been the head coach of Japan from July 2014, was dismissed on 3 February 2015, as Aguirre has been involved in an ongoing match-fixing investigation, over the Real Zaragoza's 2-1 win against Levante UD on the final day of the 2010–11 La Liga, when Aguirre was the head coach of Zaragoza.
Japan is one of the most successful soccer 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 "Aguirre Japan" (アギーレジャパン Agīre Japan?).
- 1 History
- 2 Rivalries
- 3 Team image
- 4 Competitive record
- 5 Recent results and fixtures
- 6 Coaching
- 7 Players
- 8 Managers
- 9 Competitions
- 10 Head-to-Head records against other countries
- 11 Team Records
- 12 Honors
- 13 See also
- 14 References
- 15 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 2014 FIFA World Cup in 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 in a hard fought match 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. The road to Brazil looked bright as Japan managed a 2–2 draw with the Netherlands and a 2–3 victory over Belgium. This was followed by three straight wins against Cyprus, Costa Rica and Zambia.
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 despite initially taking the lead, allowing two goals in a two-minute span. They drew their second game to Greece 0–0. To qualify for the second round they needed a victory against Colombia and needed Greece to beat Ivory Coast. Greece beat Ivory Coast 2–1 but Japan could not perform well against Colombia and were beaten 4–1, eliminating them from the World Cup. Alberto Zaccheroni resigned as head coach after the FIFA World Cup. In July 2014, former Mexico and Espanyol manager Javier Aguirre took over and Japan lost 0–2 to Uruguay in the first game he managed.
Javier Aguirre would begin a strong revamp of the team, switching out Zaccheroni's long used 4-2-3-1 formation for his own 4-3-3 and applied this with a roster of the J-League's finest, dropping many regulars. A 2–2 draw against Venezuela was followed by a 1–0 victory over Jamaica. The J-League call-ups then showed their quality against a strong Brazil roster, holding the World Cup hosts to a 0–1 deficit until half-time. Neymar would however over-power the inexperienced team and complete his 0–4 rout through the second half. Japan's sights turned to January and their title defense at the 2015 AFC Asian Cup.
Japan won its opener match at 2015 AFC Asian Cup in Group D against Palestine, the team that plays in the tournament for the first time 4–0 with goals from Yasuhito Endō, Shinji Okazaki, Keisuke Honda (penalty kick) and Maya Yoshida. Okazaki was also named as man of the match. They faced Iraq and Jordan in their next group matches which won 1–0 and 2–0. They qualified to knockout stage as Group D winner with nine points, seven goals scored and no goal conceding. At quarter-finals, Japan have lost to UAE in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw, as two key players, Keisuke Honda and Shinji Kagawa missed the penalty kicks, making their first dropout as early as the quarterfinal of the Asian Cup in 19 years since they have lost to Kuwait 0-2 at the quarterfinal of the 1996 edition, when Japan had never made it to the FIFA World Cup yet.
Japan possesses a strong rivalry with South Korea. Japan has played 75 matches against the South Korean football team with 13 victories, 22 draws, and 40 losses. The football rivalry is long-seated and is often seen as an extension of an overall rivalry that runs deep between the two nations. Controversies occasionally flare up between matches between the two nations, most recently at the 2013 EAFF East Asian Cup, where at the final match of the tournament, played between South Korea and Japan on 28 July, South Korean fans booed the start of the Japanese anthem and later upped the political sloganeering with a banner that covered most of the width of one end of the ground that read, in Korean, "The nation that forgets history has no future."(Korean: 역사를 잊은 민족에게 미래는 없다), apparently aiming at the Japanese leaders' reluctance to admit to wrongdoings during its militaristic and colonial past, after they displayed huge pictures of Ahn Jung-geun, who assassinated the first Prime Minister of Japan and then-Japanese Resident-General of Korea Itō Hirobumi back in 1909, and Yi Sun-sin, a Korean naval commander who is famed for his victories against the Japanese navy during the Imjin war in the Joseon Dynasty back in the 16th century.
Japan began to develop a fierce rivalry with fellow Asian powerhouse Australia, shortly after the latter joined the AFC. The rivalry began at the 2006 FIFA World Cup where the two countries were grouped together. The rivalry continued with the two countries meeting regularly in various AFC competitions, such as the 2007 AFC Asian Cup, the 2011 AFC Asian Cup Final and the 2013 EAFF East Asian Cup.
Japanese national team supporters are known for chanting "Nippon Ole" (Nippon is the Japanese term for Japan) at home matches.
Kits and colours
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
|Assistant Coach||Alfredo Tena|
|Assistant Coach||Miguel Rivera|
|Assistant Coach||Stuart Gelling|
|Fitness Coach||Juan Iribarren|
|Technical Assistant||Makoto Teguramori|
|Technical Assistant||Naoki Hayakawa|
The following players have also been called up to the Japan squad within the last 12 months.
- As of 23 January 2015
- Statistics below are from matches which the Japan Football Association consider as official.
- As of 23 January 2015
|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)||2007–2010||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 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