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Japan Announces Squad for 2018 World Cup
[2018.05.31]

The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia will kick off on June 14. Here we look at the 23 members of the Japanese men’s national soccer team.

On May 31, the Japan Football Association announced the final 23 members of the Japanese men’s national soccer team that will compete at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

The final squad, reduced from a preliminary 27-man roster announced on May 21, was chosen following a 2–0 loss against Ghana in a friendly match on May 30 at Yokohama Stadium that served as the final evaluation for selection.

In an unusual move, the JFA in April replaced former national team manager Vahid Halilhodžić after three years at the helm with Nishino Akira, leaving the new skipper an incredibly short period of time to prepare his squad for the World Cup. Facing this situation, Nishino opted for experience over recent performance and condition to assemble a veteran-rich team that includes players capable of playing several positions.

The squad will head to Europe for friendlies against Switzerland on June 8 and Paraguay on June 12 before traveling to Russia for their opening World Cup match against Colombia on June 19.

Japan has appeared in six straight World Cups, starting with France in 1998, but has only made it out of the group stage twice, in 2002 and 2010, and has yet to advance beyond the first round of the knock-out stage. Japan has posted four victories, nine losses, and four draws in 17 World Cup matches and scored 14 goals while giving up 22.

Japan’s National Team World Cup Schedule

(Dates and times in Japan)

Group Stage Matches (Group H) Opponent
June 19 (Tue)  9 pm Colombia
June 25 (Mon)  12 pm Senegal
June 28 (Thu)  11 pm Poland

Japan’s 2018 World Cup Team

(Match data current as of May 31, 2018)

Manager

Nishino Akira

Date of birth: April 7, 1955

Managing history
1991-1992 Japan’s U-20 national team
1994-1996 Japan’s U-23 national team (Atlanta Olympics)
1998-2001 Kashiwa Reysol
2002-2011 Gamba Osaka
2012 Vissel Kobe
2014-2015 Nagoya Grampus

Goalkeepers

Kawashima Eiji

Date of birth: March 20, 1983
Height: 185 cm
83 caps / 85 goals allowed
Club: Metz (France)

Higashiguchi Masaaki

Date of birth: May 12, 1986
Height: 184 cm
4 caps / 5 goals allowed
Club: Gamba Osaka

Nakamura Kōsuke

Date of birth: February 27, 1995
Height: 185 cm
3 caps / 5 goals allowed
Club: Kashiwa Reysol

Defenders

Nagatomo Yūto

Date of birth: September 12, 1986
Height: 170 cm
104 caps / 3 goals
Club: Galatasaray (Turkey)

Makino Tomoaki

Date of birth: May 11, 1987
Height: 182 cm
31 caps / 4 goals
Club: Urawa Reds

Yoshida Maya

Date of birth: August 24, 1988
Height: 189 cm
81 caps / 10 goals
Club: Southampton FC (England)

Sakai Hiroki

Date of birth: April 12, 1990
Height: 183 cm
41 caps / 0 goals
Club: Olympique de Marseille (France)

Sakai Gōtoku

Date of birth: March 14, 1991
Height: 176 cm
39 caps / 0 goals
Club: Hamburger SV (Germany)

Shōji Gen

Date of birth: December 11, 1992
Height: 182 cm
11 caps / 1 goal
Club: Kashima Antlers

Endō Wataru

Date of birth: February 9, 1993
Height: 178 cm
11 caps / 0 goals
Club: Urawa Reds

Ueda Naomichi

Date of birth: October 24, 1994
Height: 186 cm
3 caps / 0 goals
Club: Kashima Antlers

Midfielders

Honda Keisuke

Date of birth: June 13, 1986
Height: 182 cm
94 caps / 36 goals
Club: CF Pachuca (Mexico)

Shibasaki Gaku

Date of birth: May 28, 1992
Height: 175 cm
16 caps / 3 goals
Club: Getafe CF (Spain)

Haraguchi Genki

Date of birth: May 9, 1991
Height: 177 cm
31 caps / 6 goals
Club: Fortuna Düsseldorf (Germany)

Kagawa Shinji

Date of birth: March 17, 1989
Height: 175 cm
90 caps / 29 goals
Club: Borussia Dortmund (Germany)

Yamaguchi Hotaru

Date of birth: October 6, 1990
Height: 173 cm
41 caps / 2 goals
Club: Cerezo Osaka

Hasebe Makoto

Date of birth: January 18, 1984
Height: 180 cm
109 national caps / 2 goals scored
Club: Eintracht Frankfurt (Germany)

Inui Takashi

Date of birth: June 22, 1988
Height: 169 cm
25 caps / 2 goals
Club: SD Eibar (Spain)

Usami Takashi

Date of birth: May 6, 1992
Height: 180 cm
22 caps / 3 goals
Club: Fortuna Düsseldorf (Germany)

Ōshima Ryōta

Date of birth: January 23, 1993
Height: 168 cm
4 caps / 0 goals
Club: Kawasaki Frontale

Forwards

Okazaki Shinji

Date of birth: April 16, 1986
Height: 174 cm
112 caps / 50 goals
Club: Leicester City (England)

Ōsako Yūya

Date of birth: May 18, 1990
Height: 182 cm
27 caps / 7 goals
Club: SV Werder Bremen (Germany)

Mutō Yoshinori

Date of birth: July 15, 1992
Height: 178 cm
22 caps / 2 goals
Club: 1. FSV Mainz 05 (Germany)

(Originally written in Japanese. Photographs provided by the Japan Football Association)

  • [2018.05.31]
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