Doha: Japan head coach Hajime Moriyasu has said his side’s opening game at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 against four-time champions Germany will not be a do-or-die clash as the Samurai Blue attempt to break new ground at the global showpiece.
The Japanese will be appearing at their seventh consecutive FIFA World Cup Finals having first qualified for the competition in France in 1998, with Moriyasu guiding his team to second place in their group behind Saudi Arabia to qualify for Qatar 2022.
And although the draw has not been kind to the four-time AFC Asian Cup winners, Moriyasu is refusing to train his gaze too intently on the task his team will face against Hansi Flick’s team on November 23.
Doha: Making their seventh successive appearance at the FIFA World Cup™ since debuting in France in 1998, Japan have appeared in more editions than any other Asian nation except Korea Republic.
Three Round of 16 appearances remain their best performances to date and, with a squad of players spread around Europe’s top leagues as well as a sprinkling of J1 League-based talent, the Samurai Blue will be targeting the knockout rounds once more.
Ito: Over half the world will be watching — that's huge
Doha: A key player for Japan, Junya Ito is one of the first names on the team sheet and he will have to remain on song if the Samurai Blue are to survive arguably one of the toughest groups and reach the knockout stages of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
He may have struggled for game time when head coach Hajime Moriyasu first took over, but Ito soon warmed up when it came to the AFC Asian Qualifiers. In fact, red hot is the only way to describe his final-round performance, with four goals and two assists. Having also won a penalty, he had a hand in seven goals in all, more than half Japan’s total.
Even so, his road to the big time was more leisurely than fast track. He played football in high school and college, but his big break came when spotted by a scout. Next came a move to Ventforet Kofu, famous for an unlikely Emperor’s Cup victory in Japan. Hard work and resilience would then see him rise up the ranks to his present stellar status.
This season, he moved to Stade de Reims in the French Ligue 1, where he quickly became the team’s beating heart. Ito joined FIFA to share his thoughts on the World Cup and his hopes for the tournament.
Doha: Who didn't dream at least once of lifting this cup themselves when they were a kid? Playing at the FIFA World Cup Finals is a dream that does not come true for every player and even fewer manage to hold the trophy aloft. Winning this trophy means becoming a football legend and being remembered as a hero for the rest of your life.
From Diego Armando Maradona to Zinedine Zidane, via Ronaldo and Bastian Schweinsteiger – plenty of footballing legends have had the pleasure of lifting this trophy heavenward and by doing so have gone down in history forever.
Doha: With the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar just days away, the full squads for all 32 teams can finally be confirmed as anticipation for kick off cranks up another notch.
The announcement of the 26-man lists confirms the sporting dreams of 832 players, who will all head to the 22nd edition of the Finals, which are set to kick-off when hosts Qatar face Ecuador in Al-Bayt Stadium on Sunday.
Buenos Aires: Lionel Messi says he is cautious over Argentina's chances as he prepares to lead the team at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, seeking to crown a glorious career by lifting the trophy in Qatar.
The South American side have won the trophy twice - in 1978 and 1986 - with Messi a defeated finalist in 2014.