Japan national football team
(Japan Football Association)
|Sub-confederation||EAFF (East Asia)|
|Head coach||Alberto Zaccheroni|
|Most caps||Yasuhito Endō (127)|
|Top scorer||Kunishige Kamamoto (80)|
|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 0–5 China
(Tokyo; 9 May 1917)
| Japan 15–0 Philippines
(Tokyo; 27 September 1967)
| Japan 2–15 Philippines
(Tokyo; 10 May 1917)
|Appearances||4 (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 (Japanese: 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 one of the successful football teams in Asia, having qualified for the last four consecutive FIFA World Cup 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.
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.
Japan then started their road to World Cup 2014 Brazil with numerous qualifiers, throughout they suffered only one loss to Uzbekistan, and a pair of draws against Iceland and Australia, but picking up several wins, afterwards on October 12, Japan picked up a historic 1-0 victory over France, a team they had never before defeated.
Fan Chanting 
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 the color of the numbers from white to gold.
Prior to Adidas, the team's official apparel sponsor was the Japanese brand Asics. 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 provided by Asics.
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".
Kit history 
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, Panasonic, Saison Card International, FamilyMart, Fujifilm, ANA, JAL, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance, Sony, Bank of Yokohama, NTT DoCoMo, Asahi Shinbun, Nissan and Audi.
Recent results and fixtures 
* Japan score always listed first
|Head Coach||Alberto Zaccheroni|
|Assistant Coach||Stefano Agresti|
|Fitness Coach||Eugenio Albarella|
|Goalkeeping Coach||Maurizio Guido|
|Technical Assistant||Ichiro Wada|
|Technical Assistant||Giampaolo Colautti|
Current squad 
Squad selected for 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification – AFC Fourth Round against Australia on 4 June 2013.
- Caps and goals as of 23 May 2013.
Recent call-ups 
The following players have also been called up to the Japan squad within the last 12 months.
- As of 26 March 2013
- Statistics below are from matches which the Japan Football Association consider as official.
- *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 
AFC Asian Cup 
FIFA Confederations Cup 
|FIFA Confederations Cup record|
|1992||Did Not Qualify|
|1997||Did Not Qualify|
|2009||Did Not Qualify|
|2017||To Be Determined|
|FIFA Confederations Cup History|
|1995||Round 1||Japan 0–3 Nigeria||Loss|
|Round 1||Japan 1–5 Argentina||Loss|
|2001||Round 1||Japan 3–0 Canada||Win|
|Round 1||Japan 2–0 Cameroon||Win|
|Round 1||Japan 0–0 Brazil||Draw|
|Semifinals||Japan 1–0 Australia||Win|
|Final||Japan 0–1 France||Loss|
|2003||Round 1||Japan 3–0 New Zealand||Win|
|Round 1||Japan 1–2 France||Loss|
|Round 1||Japan 0–1 Colombia||Loss|
|2005||Round 1||Japan 1–2 Mexico||Loss|
|Round 1||Japan 1–0 Greece||Win|
|Round 1||Japan 2–2 Brazil||Draw|
|2013||Round 1||Japan – Brazil|
|Round 1||Japan – Italy|
|Round 1||Japan – Mexico|
Olympic Games 
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.
Copa América 
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.
- Bronze Medal (1): 1968
- Runners-Up (1): 2001
- Years (6): 2000, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2010, 2011
- Champions (1): 1930
- Champions (2): 1993, 2007
- Champions (1): 2001
- Champions (11): 1991, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011
- Years (1): 2002
See also 
- List of Japan international footballers
- Japan Football Association
- Football in Japan
- Japan national under-23 football team
- Sport in Japan
- Japan–Korea Republic football rivalry
- A common methodology of nickname creation is done by taking the last name of incumbent head coach followed by "Japan". Past teams have been referred to as, "Osim Japan" (オシムジャパン Oshimu Japan ), "Zico Japan" (ジーコジャパン Jīko Japan ), "Troussier Japan" (トルシエジャパン Torushie Japan ).
- Matsushima, Ken. "History of the J. League". Rising Sun News. Archived from the original on 2006-05-12. Retrieved 2006-07-07.
- Japan Invited To Copa America 2011 Along With Mexico Goal.com 2 Jun 2009
- Hongo, Jun, "SOCCER IN JAPAN: Japan team has foot in World Cup door but can it kick?", Japan Times, February 9, 2010, p. 3.
- "Australia 0-1 Japan (AET". Daily Telegraph. 2011-01-29. Retrieved 2011-02-02.
- http://www.kansas.com/2011/07/17/1936597/how-have-previous-johnny-bench.html. Missing or empty
- Brand Republic News. "World's richest teams: Cup overfloweth". Rising Sun News. Retrieved 2009-02-07.
- "Audi Japan signs with JFA". Japan Football Association. 25 May 2011. Retrieved 6 June 2011.
- "2012年 日本代表スケジュール" [2012 schedule of Japan national teams] (in Japanese). Japan Football Association. 20 December 2011. Retrieved 15 March 2012.
- "キリンチャレンジカップ2012（9月＠新潟/東北電力ビッグスワンスタジアム）試合日程変更および対戦国決定のお知らせ" [Kirin Challenge Cup 2012 (@Tohoku Denryoku Big Swan Stadium/Niigata in September) announcement of the opponent and change in match date] (in Japanese). Japan Football Association. 12 July 2012. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
- "SAMURAI BLUE（日本代表） 対 オーストラリア代表（6/4＠埼玉スタジアム２００２）SAMURAI BLUE（日本代表）メンバー・スケジュール". JFA. Retrieved 23 May 2013.
- Yoon Hyung-Jin. "Japan International Match - List of Full International Matches". RSSSF. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
- Mamrud, Roberto. "Japan - Record International Players". RSSSF. Retrieved 2 July 2012.
- Japan Football Association (Japanese)
- Japan Football Association (English)
- Japan Samurai Blue (Japanese)
- Japan Adidas (Japanese)
- Japan FIFA (English)
1988 Saudi Arabia
|Champions Of Asia
1992 Japan (1st Title)
1996 Saudi Arabia
1996 Saudi Arabia
|Champions Of Asia
2000 Japan (2nd Title)
|Champions Of Asia
2004 Japan (3rd Title)
|Champions Of Asia
2011 Japan (4th Title)
2001 Ichiro Suzuki
|Japan Professional Sports Grand Prize
2002 Japan National Football Team
2003 Hideki Matsui
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