Fifa Ranking: 55
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. However, Japan made its first appearance in the Asian Cup in 1988, where they were eliminated in the group stage following a draw with Iran and losses to South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar.
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. The following year Japan hosted and won the Asian Cup in their second appearance, defeating Saudi Arabia 1–0 in the final. The J. League was officially launched in 1993, causing interest in football and the national team to grow.
Japan In Fifa World Cup:
The Japan national football team (サッカー日本代表 Sakkā 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 Vahid Halilhodžić.
It is one of the most successful teams in Asia, having qualified for the last six consecutive FIFA World Cups with second-round advancements in 2002 and 2010, and having won the AFC Asian Cup a record four times, in 1992, 2000, 2004 and 2011. The team has also finished second in the 2001 FIFA Confederations Cup. Their principal continental rivals are South Korea 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. Although they initially accepted the invitation for the 2011 tournament, the JFA later withdrew following the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.
The Japanese team is commonly known by the fans and media as Sakkā 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 the manager’s last name, as “Halilhodžić Japan” (ハリルホジッチジャパン Hariruhojitchi Japan), or “Halil Japan” (ハリルジャパン Hariru Japan) in an abbreviated form.
JPN – AUS (2-0) 31 AUG 2017:
Japan wrapped up Russia qualification in style thanks to Yosuke Ideguchi’s thunderous finish against Australia.
A cultured and stylish centre-back, Yoshida has been one of the cornerstones of Japan’s team over two FIFA World Cup campaigns.
Captain of Japan’s 2012 Olympic Games team, the Southampton-based Yoshida is a handy asset at set-pieces, contributing his share of goals.