Friday, December 26, 2014

Japan All-time 23 member team

Japan 1998
Before the 1990's, football was not a big sport in Japan.  In 1992, however, Japan won the Asian Cup and became a power in Asia.  With the formation of J-League in 1993, football gained ground in Japan.  In the same year, they almost qualified for the WC Finals in United States. However, they surrendered a 90th minute goal to Iraq that gave South Korea the final berth to the WC Finals.  The match was known as the "Agony of Doha".  Japan finally qualified for the WC in 1998 and went on to qualify for all of the following WC Finals at the time of writing.  In both 2002 and 2010, they advanced to the second round of the WC Finals.

If there were an All-Time World Cup, this would be 23 players I would bring to the tournament.

GK: Eiji Kawashima 川島 永嗣
He was the starting keeper for both WC Finals in 2010 and 2014.  He is the first Japanese keeper to establish himself in an European Club.  He played for Standard Leige and Lierse.
GK: Seigo Narazaki 楢﨑 正剛
He was named in 4 straight WC team, but he started only in 2002.  He played mainly for Nagoya Grampus.

GK: Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi 川口 能活
He was named in 4 straight WC teams.  He was the starter for France 1998 and South Africa 2006.  He spent most of his career playing at home, but spent a brief stint with Portsmouth in the First Division.  

RB: Atsuto Uchida 内田 篤人
He has been playing for Schalke 04 for the past 5 seasons.  He was on the Bundesliga team of the Year for 2012-2013. 

RB/DM/CB: Takumi Horiike 堀池 巧
He started his career with Yomiuri.  After the formation of J-League, he spent most of his career with Shimizu S-Pulse. He was capped 58 times

CB: Masami Ihara 井原 正巳
Masami Ihara was the Asian player of the Year in 1995.  He led Japan to its first ever World Cup in 1998. He was a star in the J-League throughout the 1990's.

Masami Ihara 

CB: Maya Yoshida 吉田 麻也
He started his career with Grampus Eight Nagoya.  Since 2012, he has played or Southampton.  He also played for VVV Velo. He went to the WC in 2014.

CB: Yuji Nakazawa 中沢 佑二
He went to Brazil as a youngster.  He returned to Japan, and played for  Verdy Kawasaki and Yokohama Marinos.  He went to the South Africa 2006.  He was one of four Japanese players to earn over 100 caps. 
CB: Tsuneyasu Miyamoto 宮本 恒靖
He played for Gamba Osaka before moving to play for Red Bull Salzburg in Austria. he played in 2002 and 2006 WC Finals.

 LB:  Yuto Nagatomo 長友 佑都
He is known for his offensive skills.  Since 2011, he was a starter with Inter Milan.  He played with Tokyo FC and Cesena.  He can also play as a rightback. 

Yuto Nagatomo 

LB: Satoshi Tsunami 都並 敏史
He started his career with Yomiuri in the Japanese Professional league.  He was capped 80 times before 1982 and 1995.

CM: Ruy Ramos ラモス瑠偉
He was one of the first foreign players in Japanese professional soccer, joining Yomiuri (later Verdy Kawasaki, now Tokyo Verdy) in 1977 at the age of 20. He was an important member of the Japanese national team during their unsuccessful 1994 World Cup qualification, eventually retiring from the game in 1998 at the age of 41.
Ruy Ramos

CM: Yasuhito Endō 遠藤 保仁
He was a hero at Gamba Osaka.  He is Japan's most capped players.  He went to the WC Finals in 2006, 2010 and 2014.
CM: Yasuhiko Okudera 奥寺 康彦
When soccer was still an amatuer sport in Japan, Okudera made his way to Germany.  He played with FC Klon and Werder Bremen in the 1980's. 

AM: Kazushi Kimura 木村 和司
He was a star midfielder in the 1980's.  He was Japan's Player of the Year in 1983, 1984 and 1989.  He played for Nissan Motors before the foundation of J-League.

AM: Shunsuke Nakamura 中村 俊輔
 He was a star player at Celtics.  He won the SPF Player of the year and SFWA Player of the Year in 2007.  Before that, he played with Reggina in Serie A.  He played in three WC Finals, but he was not selected for the WC in 2002 at home. 

Shunsuke Nakamura 

AM:  Hidetoshi Nakata 中田 英寿
He was the first Japanese player who reached stardom in Europe.  He scored 10 goals in his first season with Perugia.  He had a successful substitute role with Roma, but he never settled down.  He also played with Parma, Fiorentina and Bologna.  He later went to play in England.
Hidetoshi Nakata 

AM: Keisuke Honda 本田 圭佑
He is the current star of the Japanese national team.  He played in Holland and Russia before making a dream move to AC Milan in 2014.  He played in two WC Finals: 2010 and 2014. He is one of the best Japanese players.

AM Shinji Kagawa 香川 真司
He started with Cerezo Osaka before he starred for Borussia Dortmund.  He spent two quiet seasons with Manchester United before returning to Borussia Dortmund.  
Shinji Kagawa 

FW: Ryuichi Sugiyama 杉山 隆一
He won the bronze medal at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. He also participated in the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo and scored 2 goals. He spent his entire career with Mitsubishi.

FW:  Kazuyoshi Miura 三浦 知良
He became the first Japanese footballer to play in Italy, joining Genoa for 1994-1995.  He was the Asian Player of the Year in 1993.  Despite being the best Japanese player in the 1990's, he never played in the WC Finals.  He was not selected for the 1998 WC in France.
Kazuyoshi Miura 

ST: Masashi Nakayama 中山 雅史
In 1998, he scored the first goal for Japan in the history of the World Cup.  He spent most of his career with Jublio Iwata, a powerful team at the time. He won three J-League titles in 1997, 1999 and 2002.

ST:  Kunishige Kamamoto  釜本 邦茂
He won the bronze medal at the 1968 Summer Olympics, finishing as the tournament's top scorer with seven goals. He is often considered to be the greatest Japanese football player of all-time.  He played his entire career with Yanmar Diesel(Cerezo Osaka).
Kunishige Kamamoto 

Honorable Mention
Naohiro Takahara 高原 直泰, Hisashi Kato 加藤 久 and Naoki Soma 相馬 直樹

Squad Explanation
Despite Japan's poor performance at the WC 2014 in Brazil, the current generation of Japanese players are among the best ever.  I included 5 players from the 2014 team.   

Starting lineup
Formation 4-2-1-3
  • I prefer Kawashima over Kawaguchi, whom I believed to have too many his lapse.
  • Nakata started on the right, but I could easily give that position to Miura.

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