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.
Official FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Fan Guide available now
Doha: Tickets? Check. Hayya Card and accommodation? Check. What’s left before embarking on the experience of a lifetime? The official FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Fan Guide, newly published, is available now for download and collection.
The 128-page Fan Guide is the essential one-stop resource for everything connected to the best FIFA World Cup ever, including key information on teams, stadiums, match schedules, and transportation on match day.
Doha: Brazil will begin their bid to win a record-extending sixth FIFA World Cup title in Group G at Qatar 2022.
Standing in their way will be Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon, with the Neymar-led South Americans looking to add the Qatar 2022 title to the one won in Korea/Japan 2002 - the only other previous edition contested in Asia.
Doha: With a record six Asian nations headed to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, the continent stands as big a chance of delivering exceptional results this winter as it ever had as Qatar are joined by Australia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Japan, Korea Republic and Saudi Arabia.
With the clock running down ahead of Qatar 2022 and six Asian teams participating, the-AFC.com profiles each of the sides representing the continent. Next up in this series are Iran.
Kuala Lumpur: The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 will be the fifth straight edition in which Australia have participated, and the Socceroos, under Graham Arnold, will aim for the knockout rounds for only the second time fuelled by a talented crop of players who ply their trade across the globe.
With the clock ticking towards the showpiece kicking off in Al Khor on Qatar's eastern coast on November 20, the-AFC.com takes a closer look at the teams representing Asia in the tournament – kicking off with Australia in focus.