Japan World Cup 2023 fixtures, betting odds and statistics
How did Japan qualify?
Japan qualified via the 2022 AFC Asia Cup. They topped their group unbeaten, above Vietnam, Myanmar and Korea Republic, beat Thailand in the quarter-finals before being eliminated by China PR in the semis, ousted on penalties. All four semi-finalists qualified for the World Cup.
Japan’s major tournament record
Best World Cup result: Winners- 2011.
AFC Asia Cup
Best Asia Cup result: Winners- 2014 & 2018.
Best Olympics result: Silver Medalists- 2012.
Japan at World Cup 2023
Only one Asian team, men’s or women’s has won the World Cup and that is Japan 12 years ago.
Back in 2011, the Nadeshiko beat United States on penalties in the final in Frankfurt, with Saki Kumagai converting the historic winning penalty.
Over a decade on, are this team amongst the favourites to go all the way again?
Well, that’s debatable.
As reigning and defending champions, Japan actually got all the way to another World Cup Final in 2015, again meeting USA, only this time they were demolished 5-2 in Vancouver as the U.S. exacted revenge.
Given this, it was a real disappointment four summers ago when crashed out in the round of 16, winning just one group game before a 2-1 defeat to Netherlands at Roazhon Park.
Now led by Futoshi Ikeda, they’re hoping to rediscover former glories.
He took over in 2021, after the Samurai Blue’s disappointing showing at the Olympic Games, that they hosted of course, crashing out in the quarter-finals at the hands of Sweden.
Earlier this year, Japan finished runners-up in the prestigious friendly tournament that is the SheBelieves Cup, losing 1-0 to both USA and Brazil before an encouraging 3-0 victory over Canada in Texas.
The serious business begins on 22 July for the two-times Asian Champions, taking on Group C’s rank-outsiders Zambia in Hamilton.
After that, they face Costa Rica in Dunedin before the section’s heavyweights go head-to-head in Hamilton, taking on Spain, a fixture that’s likely to decide top spot.
So, which Japan will we see at this tournament; one that’s capable of beating the best, or one that crashed out early?
Japan team news
Following an injury-hit season at Arsenal, Mana Iwabuchi has surprisingly been left out of the squad.
Japan′s key players: Saki Kumagai
Japan’s captain is Saki Kumagai, who will be immortalised forever, having converted that aforementioned penalty to win the World Cup in Frankfurt 12 summers ago.
She was just 20 years old back then, now 32, the centre-back has 133 caps to her name, needing six more to surpass Shinobu Ōno into third on Japan’s all-time list.
She’s unlikely to catch Homare Sawa’s national record of 205 international appearances.
At club level, Kumagai has also been ultra-successful.
During eight seasons with Olympique Lyonnais Féminin, she won seven Division 1 Féminine titles, six Coupe de Frances and five Champions Leagues, starting in the UWCL Final wins of 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2020.
Kumagai converted her spot-kick in the shootout win over PSG in Cardiff six years ago; she is the only player, male of female, to have scored a penalty in a shootout to win both the World Cup and Champions League.
She spent the last two seasons with Bayern Munich, winning this year’s Frauen-Bundesliga title, before announcing she’ll be moving to Roma later this summer.
So, can Kumagai lead Japan to more World Cup glory
Japan′s key players: Jun Endō
At the other end of the expirence scale, Jun Endō is set to make here World Cup debut at this tournament.
Just 23 years old, the forward made her debut against USA at the 2019 SheBelieves Cup, scoring her first international goal against Mexico two years later.
Speaking of North America, that’s where Endō plays her club football, joining Angel City FC for their expansion season last year, after impressing for Tōkyō Verudi Berēza.
In her debut NWSL campaign, she scored only once, also bagging a solitary goal so far in 2023, this the winner against Kansas City Current on 8 May.
Endō is yet to shine consistently at the highest level, but could be one of the breakout stars of this tournament.
Japan′s key players: Mina Tanaka
Mina Tanaka in contrast has scored 24 times for Japan, doing so in just 63 appearances, most-recently netting in a friendly victory over Portugal in Guimarães earlier this year.
Before that, the striker also scored twice at the Olympic Games two summers ago, finding the target in a win over Chile and the quarter-final defeat to Sweden in Saitama.
Now, having not been in the squad in either 2015 or 2019, Tanaka will make here long-awaited World Cup debut against Zambia on 22 July.
Having scored 11 league goals for INAC Kobe Leonessa this season, only two WE League players managed more, Tanak is coming into this tournament full of confidence.
Japan′s possible starting line-up for World Cup 2023
Japan′s full squad for World Cup 2023
|Ayaka Yamashita||55||0||INAC Kōbe Leonessa|
|Momoko Tanaka||5||0||Tōkyō Verudi Berēza|
|Chika Hirao||4||0||Albirex Niigata|
|Saki Kumagai||133||3||Bayern Munich|
|Shiori Miyake||35||0||Urawa Red Diamonds|
|Risa Shimizu||59||1||West Ham United|
|Kiko Seike||7||2||Urawa Red Diamonds|
|Miyabi Moriya||0||0||Urawa Red Diamonds|
|Hana Takahashi||13||1||Urawa Red Diamonds|
|Rion Ishikawa||1||0||Urawa Red Diamonds|
|Hikaru Naomoto||31||2||Urawa Red Diamonds|
|Yui Hasegawa||63||14||Manchester City|
|Hina Sugita||35||2||Portland Thorns|
|Honoka Hayashi||22||0||West Ham United|
|Hinata Miyazawa||22||4||MyNavi Sendai|
|Jun Endō||31||3||Angel City FC|
|Aoba Fujino||7||0||Tōkyō Verudi Berēza|
|Mina Tanaka||62||23||INAC Kōbe Leonessa|
|Remina Chiba||4||2||JEF United Chiba|
|Riko Ueki||17||8||Tōkyō Verudi Berēza|
|Maika Hamano||3||0||Hammarby IF|