Qatar 2022 World Cup: Japan Squad in Focus
– Key players and biggest names to miss out
November 13 2022
Our coverage of the teams that will be participating in the FIFA World Cup continues as we take a look at Japan. The second-highest ranked Asian team behind Iran who rank at 20th, Japan are ranked as the 24th best country on the planet and will definitely be a nation who could brighten up the World Cup with their quality.
They possess in their ranks quality players that ply their trade around Europe's top leagues.
Maya Yoshida, Takefusa Kubo and Takumi Minamino will likely be at the core of Japan's team in Qatar.
Japan Squad in Full
Goalkeepers: Eiji Kawashima (Strasbourg), Shuichi Gonda (Shimizu S-Pulse), Daniel Schmidt (Sint-Truidense).
Defenders: Yuto Nagatomo (Tokyo), Maya Yoshida (Schalke 04), Hiroki Sakai (Urawa Red Diamonds), Shogo Taniguchi (Kawasaki Frontale), Miki Yamane (Kawasaki Frontale), Ko Itakura (Borussia Monchengladbach), Takehiro Tomiyasu (Arsenal), Hiroki Ito (Stuttgart).
Midfielders: Gaku Shibasaki (Leganes), Wataru Endo (Stuttgart), Junya Ito (Reims), Takumi Minamino (Monaco), Hidemasa Morita (Sporting CP), Daichi Kamada (Eintracht Frankfurt), Yuki Soma (Nagoya Grampus), Kaoru Mitoma (Brighton & Hove Albion), Ritsu Doan (Freiburg), Ao Tanaka (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Takefusa Kubo (Real Sociedad).
Forwards: Takuma Asano (Bochum), Daizen Maeda (Celtic), Ayase Ueda (Cercle Brugge), Shuto Machino (Shonan Bellmare).
The Samurai Blue have announced a solid team made up of talented young players who have bright futures making their debut at the World Cup, with a few seasoned veterans who have been in the national team for a long time and understand very well the pressures of representing their country at the biggest tournaments, especially the World Cup.
When asked about his reasoning behind his decision, Japan's national team coach Hajime Moriyasu explained that he had opted for players with burning ambition over some of the other experienced campaigners.
"Selecting members with the experience was one option but ultimately we decided to bet on the players who didn't have that but had the burning ambition to succeed at the World Cup." Moriyasu said.
Biggest names to miss out
The omission that opened the most eyes after the squad was announced was that of Glasgow Celtic forward Kyogo Furuhashi. The 27-year-old's impressive return of 10 goals in 15 starts in all competitions this season was not enough to get him into the final selection even though he made nine appearances in the qualifiers.
Yuya Osako is the joint top scorer for the Japanese national team in 2022 with 10 goals but Moriyasu will be unable to depend on him at the World Cup because of his fitness issues.
Union Berlin midfielder Genki Haraguchi also misses out on the World Cup despite having featured for Japan in the last one. His experience has been replaced by more youthful options.
Japan had to replace Huddersfield Town defender Yuta Nakayama with Shuto Machino as Nakayama injured his achilles tendon in a match.
Who are the key names?
Japan's dependable captain will be going into his third straight World Cup and will be tasked with leading this group of players to new and historic heights in Japan.
The FC Schalke 04 man will need all of the expedience he has gained in his 121 international caps to help stop rival attacks and coordinate the Samurai Blue's defence.
The Brighton forward has caught the eye recently with excellent performances under new manager Roberto De Zerbi.
The 25-year-old recently scored in Brighton's huge Carabao cup win at the home of Premier League leaders Arsenal. Mitoma seems to be hitting his stride at just the right time for his club and it looks like he is primed to take that good form to Qatar.
He made his debut for Japan just after his 18th birthday and he is still regarded as one of the future stars of Japanese football.
After a much celebrated move to Real Madrid, Kubo was sent out on several loan spells before he was eventually sold to Real Sociedad. The Basque country is where the 21-year-old has found a home and has become a regular feature in an exciting team. He will be relied upon to give his team the creativity and drive needed to win important games in Qatar.
With Yuya Osako missing the World Cup, Minamino becomes Japan's top scorer in 2022 going to the World Cup.
Though not a regular starter at AS Monaco, he is arguably their most important attacker and will be relied upon to find the back of the net and add to his tally of 17 for his country whichever position he plays across the frontline.
The Arsenal defender has become something of a fan favorite at his club since he joined them last season.
Although he has not been a regular in the squad due to the amazing form of Ben White, he still has enough quality to be a starter for Mikel Arteta's side. His solid defensive prowess at the right back position will be needed to ensure that any danger from that side of the pitch is taken care of.
With 12 goals for Europa League holders Eintracht Frankfurt in all competitions this season Kamada goes into the tournament as one of the most in-form players in the squad.
He will need to add to his return of six goals in 21 caps for Japan if he is to help them fulfill their potential at the tournament.