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Japan National Football Team

Japan National Football only started to take it seriously relatively recently. However, in the few decades that the country has been competing professionally, progress has been fast.

Not only is the quality on the pitch of interest, but the team’s relationship with other nations is truly unique, leading to plenty of oddities throughout the years.

Want to see how The Japan National Football Team will do in the Qatar 2022 World Cup? Click the links below to bet on your favourite World Cup matches!

Wednesday November 23Germany vs Japan (Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan; kick-off 2pm).

Sunday November 27 – Japan vs Costa Rica (Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan; kick-off 11am).

Thursday December 1Japan vs Spain (Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan; kick-off 8pm).


Team History

Japan National Football Brings Things Together

The Japan National Football team began playing the in a notable capacity in the 1920s when the sport was encouraged in schools. In 1921 the Japan Football Association (JFA) was formed, and eight years later, they joined the international footballing organization FIFA. Initially, the team was represented by sides from various universities, but as people began to take the sport more seriously, a national team quickly became inevitable.

This side got its first run out in the 1930 Far Eastern Championship Games. As a result of the times’ different formats, Japan finished level with China for the tournament title, which was an impressive start for such a new team in the sport.

Colonial Development

The team benefited from the country’s colonialism in the 1930s. Of particular help to the side was the occupation of Korea, which resulted in numerous players from the peninsular appearing for the Japanese national team. This laid down the foundations of what would go on to be a fiery rivalry between Japan and South Korea.

Post-war Years

Initially shunned from the international footballing community for the JFA’s disorganization in the 1930s and the country’s general hostility during World War II, Japan joined FIFA for the second time in 1950.

In 1968, the team got their first taste of proper international success when they won bronze at the Summer Olympics in Mexico. Such an achievement could be marked as the beginning of the sport’s development in many countries, but Japan was still without a professional league. This meant domestic interest in the sport had little room to grow, and the national teams couldn’t build on the Olympic success for decades.

Creation of the J.League

Towards the end of the 1980s, things started looking up for the country. In 1986 the Japan National Football team narrowly missed out on World Cup qualification. However, they more than made up for it two years later when they qualified for the Asian Cup for the first time, although the team ultimately played poorly.

In 1991 the country finally declared plans for a professional league, and things quickly started looking up. Japan won the 1992 Asian Cup, and in 1993, the professional J.League began.
In 1998 Japan qualified for the World Cup for the first time ever. Although they lost all three fixtures, the sides did their country proud and gave fans a taste of the international competition.

The 21st century

Japan National Football won consecutive Asian Cups in the 2000s, marking them as a force to be reckoned with on the continent. World Cup qualification also became more regular as the team participated in 2006, 2010, 2014, and 2018.

Japan goes into the 2022 World Cup in Qatar as an experienced side with plenty of history in the tournament.

Japanese Football Team Trivia

  • Copa America is often associated with South American teams. However, Japan has been invited to participate four times and accepted the invitation in 1999 and 2019.
  • Japan’s biggest win and heaviest defeat come against the same country. The Philippines got a huge upper hand in 1917 with a 15-2 win, while Japan got revenge and a clean sheet 50 years later in a 15-0 victory.
  • Japan has a reputation for developing rivalries with all sorts of teams on its continent, with countries as distant as Australia and Saudi Arabia now making for great derby fixtures.

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