Japan national football team
(Japan Football Association)
|Sub-confederation||EAFF (East Asia)|
|Head coach||Alberto Zaccheroni|
|Most caps||Yasuhito Endō (141)|
|Top scorer||Kunishige Kamamoto (80)|
|Home stadium||Saitama Stadium 2002|
|FIFA ranking||50 2|
|Highest FIFA ranking||9 (February 1998)|
|Lowest FIFA ranking||66 (December 1992)|
|Highest Elo ranking||8 (August 2001, March 2002)|
|Lowest Elo ranking||112 (September 1962)|
| Japan 2–5 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, 2010|
|Appearances||7 (First in 1988)|
|Best result||Champions, 1992, 2000, 2004, 2011|
|Appearances||1 (First in 1999)|
|Best result||Round 1, 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 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?). 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.
- 1 History
- 2 Team image
- 3 Recent results and fixtures
- 4 Coaching
- 5 Players
- 6 Managers
- 7 Competitions
- 8 Honors
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 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 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.
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 their first title in history.
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 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.
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".
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.
Recent results and fixtures
* Japan score always listed first
Win Draw Loss
|Head Coach||Alberto Zaccheroni|
|Assistant Coach||Stefano Agresti|
|Fitness Coach||Eugenio Albarella|
|Goalkeeping Coach||Maurizio Guido|
|Technical Assistant||Ichiro Wada|
|Technical Assistant||Giampaolo Colautti|
- Caps and goals as of 5 March 2014, after match against New Zealand.
The following players have also been called up to the Japan squad within the last 12 months.
- As of 5 March 2014
- Statistics below are from matches which the Japan Football Association consider as official.
- As of 14 August 2013
|Shigemaru Takenokoshi||1951–1956, 1958–1959||24||6||6||12||25%|
|Hidetoki Takahashi||1957, 1960–1962||14||3||2||9||21.43%|
|Ken Naganuma||1962–1969, 1972–1976||73||34||12||27||46.57%|
|Takeshi Okada||1997–1998, 2007–2010||65||31||18||16||47.69%|
- *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|
|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||-||-||-||-||-||-|
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 of 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.