An Asian island nation in the Pacific Ocean that has appeared FIFA World Cup five times with official FIFA ranking of 55 is Japan. The association of football for Japan was formed in 1921 and the present president of the Japan Football Association is Mr. Kohzo Tashima. Japan was banned for the FIFA World Cup 1950 which was hosted by Brazil. The first appearance of Japan in FIFA World Cup was in 1998. Since 1998 Japan has not missed any FIFA World Cup appearances. In 2002 FIFA World Cup was hosted by Japan and South Korea. Keisuke Honda is the top scorer from Japan for FIFA World Cup with 3 goals while Shinji Okazaki is with 2 goals from FIFA World Cup 2010 and 2014.
World Cup Qualifier Asia
All the 46 members of the association will take part in the competition that takes places in four rounds. For FIFA World Cup 2018 four teams will qualify from Asia and the team that finishes fifth goes for the intercontinental playoffs. In the round two forty remaining teams are divided into eight different groups and the winner of each group along with the best four runner-ups will advance to the third round of the qualifier. Twelve teams on round three are divided into two groups each containing 6 teams where the teams on each group will play one another in a home and away round robin pattern and the winners of each group and runners-ups qualifies for the FIFA World Cup 2018. Two teams that finish third place in each group advance to round four and the winner from round four reaches to the intercontinental playoffs.
With a total of eight games played in World Cup qualifier Asia Japan managed to win seven of them and drew against Singapore. The best performance of Japan during their qualifier round was against Afghanistan where Japan scored six times with a clean sheet at the end of the game. Japan also managed to score five goals against Syria. With a total of 22 points in the qualifier table, japan managed to qualify for FIFA World Cup 2018.
FIFA World Cup 2018 Group H
The Fixtures for Japan in Group Stage are:
- Colombia – Japan ( Tuesday, 19 June)
- Japan – Senegal (Sunday, 24 June)
- Japan – Poland (Thursday, 28 June)
Players to watch:
Coach: VAHID HALILHODŽIĆ