Group H: Japan         Castellano   Page 2

Argentina  2

Austria  2

Belgium  2

Brazil  2

Bulgaria  2

Cameroon  2

Chile  2

Colombia  2

Croatia  2

Denmark  2

England  2

France  2

Germany  2

Iran  2

Italy  2

Jamaica  2

Japan  2

México

Morocco  2

Netherlands  2

Nigeria

Norway  2

Paraguay

Romania

Saudi Arabia  2

Scotland  2

South Africa 2

South Korea

Spain  2

Tunisia

United States

Yugoslavia  2

  The Football Association of Japan  

Coach: Takeshi OKADA

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vs. ARGENTINA

14.06.98 Toulouse

vs. CROATIA

20.06.98 Nantes

vs. JAMAICA

26.06.98 Lyon

Team Colors: Blue shirt, White pants

Confederation: AFC

First appearance in World Cup finals

Won bronze medal in the 1968 México Olympics

Won 1992 Asian Cup in Hiroshima

Won Asian-African championships in Tokyo 1993

Key players: F Kazu Miura (Verdy),

F Wagner Lopes (no affiliation).

®CnnSi

Hidetoshi Nakata

Keep an Eye on: Hidetoshi Nakata: At 20, the discriminating passer in midfield, perhaps the most important member of the team.

Kazu Miura: Gifted forward who has played in Brazil and with Genoa.The leading scorer in 1998 qualification with 14 scores.

Wagner Lopes: Naturalized Brazil-born forward.

Analysis: Japan lacks muscle, skill, and international experience, but it has terrific speed. Lopes is a naturalized Brazilian. Will get three games of international experience and not much else.

Still find it difficult to handle pressure, despite the presence of veterans such as Masami Ihara, the sweeper, who has more than 100 caps.

History: In 1919, the English Football Association donated a superb silver trophy to the Japanese football association, following the success of the Far East Games in 1917, the first international soccer tournament held in the country. The trophy was confiscated by the government as arms resources during the World War II and it exists no more. But the trophy forced Japan to hastily form the association in 1921 to formally receive it, and the first football tournament was kicked off in the following year with four university clubs taking part.

Japan has waited more than four decades to host the first international football event since English sailors introduced the sport in September 1873, and they have needed more than a century to reach the World Cup finals.For months, Japan were hampered by the fear not only of failure but also of disgrace. Japan dreaded becoming the first country to stage the finals without ever having qualifying. They, in tandem with South Korea, will be the hosts in 2002.

Japan enjoyed their first international victory in 1927, and posted their biggest upset victory when they shocked favourite Sweden 3-2 in their first participation in the Olympic Games at Berlin in 1936. The country returned to the Olympic Games in 1956 at Melbourne after a 20-year break caused by the war, and clinched the bronze medal in the 1968 Mexico Olympics -- the biggest glory the country has ever enjoyed. The medal was owed greatly to Dettmar Cramer of Germany, who since 1960 had been invited to Japan as a technical coach. He also helped the national side to reach the final eight at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964.

His effort affected many current football leaders, including association president Ken Naganuma, vice president Shunichiro Okano, J-League chairman Saburo Kawabuchi and former national head coach Shu Kamo, and ignited the Japanese football to develop further. Under the first foreign head coach, Marius Johan Ooft of the Netherlands, Japan captured the 1992 Asian Cup in Hiroshima for the first time, preluding the unprecedented success of the first professional league inaugurated the following year. But the long-awaited participation in the World Cup finals in 1994 was fritered away at the last second with an equalizer by Iraq in injury time, which snatched the ticket to the United States and donated it to their archrivals South Korea.

At home to South Korea in September, Japan led 1-0 before making a fatal substitution. The visitors won 2-1. When Japan scrambled a draw in Uzbekistan, Shu Kamo, the manager, was dismissed. Takeshi Okada, his replacement, could not spare the nation further alarms. Against Iran, in a play-off to reach the finals, Japan were 2-1 down and only a "golden goal" in extra time brought a 3-2 victory. Little of this distress can be blamed on a lack of ability. As some handsome results in friendlies demonstrate, Japan are capable of adroit football.

At club level, Furukawa FC (currently JEF United Ichihara) became the first Asian club champion in 1986, followed by Yomiuri FC (currently Verdy Kawasaki) in 1988, while Nissan Motors (currently Yokohama Marinos) and Yokohama Flugels won the Asian Cup Winners Cup in 1992 and 1995, respectively.

With its dependence on foreign players and coaches, the J League can deny native talent the opportunity to develop and there is little indication that they will find the resilience to survive the group stage of the finals. It is hard to believe that these players will not be overawed by Argentina and any optimism over a match with Jamaica is balanced by recognition of Croatia's potency.

Trivia for the Pub: Why the three legged bird in their seal? Thanks for asking...this is from their web site: "Our symbol mark is a three-legged craw holding a ball which is called "Yatagarasu" and represents the god of day, namely, the sun, cited from a classical book of old China. The yellow and blue colors of the flag represent fair play and youth, respectively, thereby suggesting the Football Association of Japan's spirit of fairness backed by the vigorous power of youth."

Got it?

POSITION NAME AGE CAPS

G Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi 22 22

G Noboyuki Kojima 31 5  

G Seigo Narazaki 21 0

D Masami Ihara 30 110

D Naoki Soma 26 17

D Akira Narahashi 27 44

D Yutaka Akita 27 21

D Norio Omura 28 28  

D Eisuke Nakanishi 24 5

D Tadashi Nakamura 26 16

D Toshihide Saido 28 11

M Motohiro Yamaguchi 28 50

M Hidetoshi Nakata 20 16

M Hiroshi Nanami 24 37

M Tsuyoshi Kitazawa 29 55

M Yasuto Honda 28 31

M Hiroaki Morishima 25 35

M Takashi Hirano 23 5

F Kazuyoshi Miura 30 85  

F Wagner Lopes 28 6

F Shoji Jo 22 18

F Masashi Nakayama 30 21

F Takuya Takagi 29 45

F Masayuki Okano 25 21

F Akinori Nishizawa 21 5

Home Shirt

Away Shirt

Links:
FIFA   CnnSi    ESPN

WorldMedia   Soccernet

Japan League Oficial Web Site

These sites have great Graphic Files:

Motohide Awesome Wallpaper

MikWorks Soccer Icons You might even find a Cantona, a World Famous "10" set and Real Madrid shirt set.

Uki * Uki Homepage Japanese style drawings of European based players, but check out the Batistuta and Maradona set and the Jorge Campos set.

Asahi Shimbun - English-language online version of the nationally distibuted daily newspaper.

Chugoku Shimbun

Hokkoku Shimbun

Japan Times

Mainichi Newspapers - newspaper publisher.

Nihon Keizai Shimbun - online edition of Japan's leading business and financial newspaper.

Osaka Shimbun - online English-language edition.

Shinano Mainichi Shimbun - online English-language edition.

Yomiuri Shimbun 

®CnnSi/AP

He seems to be having fun, eh?

You might be able to say hello to him in person in 2002.   

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