Their coach believes they can make the final eight but Japan’s recent results say they won’t even get four points in South Africa.
Home losses at the hands of South Korea and Serbia in addition to losses to England and the Ivory Coast have Takeshi Okada’s Blue Samurai heading into the World Cup with just one win from their past six outings.
That form is not ideal, especially in a fairly tough group where all three matches will be a massive test for a team that lacks an out-and-out goalscorer.
Their young players including Takayuki Morimoto, Keisuke Honda and Atsuto Uchida may surprise but it won’t be enough to get Japan out of the group stage and their performances may leave Okada trying to defend his words.
Playing schedule: Cameroon (Bloemfontein) June 14; Holland (Durban) June 19; Denmark (Rustenburg) June 24
Also known as: Blue Samurai
Manager: Takeshi Okada (JPN)
Captain: Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi
Key players: Shunsuke Nakamura, Keiji Tamada, Yuji Nakazawa
Wildcard: Tayakuki Morimoto
Player to watch: Keisuke Honda
Most caps: Masami Ihara (122). Of this squad: Yuji Nakazawa (105)
Top goalscorer: Kunishige Kamamoto (75). Of this squad: Shunsuke Nakamura (24)
FIFA ranking: 45
Qualifying: 2nd in Group B of AFC group stage.
Best result: Round of 16 – 2002
Yuichi Komano (Jubilo Iwata)
Marcus Tulio Tanaka (Nagoya Grampus)
Yuto Nagatomo (FC Tokyo)
Atsuto Uchida (FC Shalke)
Daiki Iwamasa (Kashima Antlers)
Yasuyuki Konno (FC Tokyo)
Yuji Nakazawa (Yokohama F. Marinos)
Yuki Abe (Urawa Reds)
Yasuhito Endo (Gamba Osaka)
Daisuke Matsui (Grenoble)
Shunsuke Nakamura (Yokohama F. Marinos)
Kengo Nakamura (Kawasaki Frontale)
Makoto Hasebe (VfL Wolfsburg)
Keisuke Honda (CSKA Moscow)
Junichi Inamoto (Kawasaki Frontale)
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