Those of you who are following events at this summer’s World Cup in South Africa will know that the French are out, the Italians are out and that Japan have qualified for the second round and first knockout phase of the tournament. With a game against Paraguay now standing in the way of a first time quarter final place for the Samurai Blue, I say it’s about time we all got behind our Japanese footballing friends and rally them on in their quest to become the first Asian team to win the World Cup.
Japan’s showing at this year’s tournament has been a notable improvment on previous appearances. On their way to the second round they defeated a strong Danish side by 3 goals to 1 and Cameroon by 1 goal to nothing. They were beaten by the Dutch by a single goal but with their two group victories in this year’s tournament they have already doubled their World Cup winning record. South Africa 2010 is proving to be the team’s greatest showing at a World Cup so far. Here’s some idea of the team’s history in the tournament so far.
Appearances at the World Cup finals:
1998 – First round
2002 – Second round (Best)
2006 – First round
Record at World Cup Finals: Played 10, Won 2, Drawn 2, Lost 6.
Best Performance at Finals: Second round in 2002. Beaten by Turkey.
Most Appearances at Finals: Hidetoshi Nakata (1998, 2002, 2006) 10 appearances.
Most Goals at Finals: Junichi Inamoto (2002) 2 Goals.
The Japanese Football story so far: Japanese football as we know it went through a huge overhaul in the early 1990′s. The launch of the professional J-League was massive step forward for the game in Japan. The national team narrowly missed out on a place at USA 1994 but have since managed to qualify for every finals since. Along with South Korea, they are considered to one of the powerhouses of the Asian confederation. The team co-hosted the tournament with South Korea in 2002, where they posted their best tournament placing to date, reaching the second round, before losing to Turkey.
Japan will play Paraguay for a quarter final place this Sunday June 29th at 3.00pm Irish time. Let’s get behind the Japanese. The team work so hard and deserve our support. They are a collective, not a bunch of over paid flash individuals like the French or the Italians. That, and the Japanese give us so many great games. I think we owe them one.
NIPPON! NIPPON! NIPPON!