FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017 Team Profile: All you need to know about Japan

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Goal profiles all the 24 nations who will be vying for glory in the FIFA U-17 World Cup in October this year. Next up are Asian powerhouse Japan...

India is all geared up to host it's first ever FIFA tournament in the form of the FIFA Under 17 World Cup in less than three months from now with 24 teams from all across the globe descending in the nation to take part in the prestigious event to be held across venues. The tournament kicks off on the 6th of October culminating in the final to be played on the 28th of October in Kolkata.

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Goal has been profling the 24 nations participating in the tourney and we now take a look at one of the Asian powerhouses, Japan who are participating in their seventh FIFA Under 17 World Cup.

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INTRODUCTION: The Blue Samurais


 

Japan emblem

Country:  Japan

Confederation:  AFC (Asia)

Nicknames:   サムライ・ブルー (Samurai Blue)

Coach:   Yoshiro Moriyama

Japan have been of the dominant forces in Asian Football in the recent decades. The senion national team have qualified for the past five successive editions of the FIFA World Cup while thir success in Asia has been unparalleled with a record four AFC Asia Cup titles to their name.With a robust and thriving domestic structure in the form of the Japanese Leage (J-League), youth development has been been a priority for the Japanese Football Association.

One of the biggest Japanese talents to emerge from the Under 17 format is Hidetoshi Nakata, the ex Japanese international who wnt on to make a name for himself in the Italian Serie A donning the colors of AS Roma, Perugia and Fiorentina in an illustrious career. Nakata was a member of the Japanese Under 17 side which advanced to the quarter final of the World Cup in 1993.

 


A PEEK INTO THE PAST 


Despite quaifying an impressive seven times, Japan are yet to make an imprint in the FIFA Under 17 world Cup having progressed no further than the quarter final stage on a couple of occassions. They failed to qualify for the previous edition but have made amends by securing their tickets to India. They have fared much better in Asia with two AFC Under 16 Championships to their name.

Japanese fans

Japan have proved they have the pedigree to compete at the highest level on the world stage but have lacked that something extra to progress beyond the quarter final stage. They will be looking to go at least one step further this time.

 


ROAD TO THE WORLD CUP 


The 2016 AFC Under 16 Championships held in India served as the qualifacation round to the World Cup with the top 4 teams along with hosts India quailfying for the world summit this October. Japan were in imperious form throughout the group stage sweeping aside their opposition scoring 21 goals and conceding none. They edged past the United Arab Emirates in the quarter finals before eventually succumbing 2-4 to Iraq in the semi-final.

None the less, a semi-final appearance was enough for Japan to book their passage to the World Cup in the same country a year later.  Since securing their qualifaction, the Japanese have left no stone unturned in preparations with multiple exposure tours.

They have since had tours to Chile, Spain and the United Arab Emirates. They will shortly be participating in the International Youth Soccer festival 2017 in their own backyard from 15th July onwards at Niigata. Post this tournament, the team will be embarking on another overseas tour of the Czech Republic in August.

 


TEAM COACH AND STYLE OF PLAY 


The team is led by former Japan international Yoshiro Moriyama. The 49 year old who was a defender in his playing career has vast experience playing and coaching in the J-League.

Moriyama has employed the 4-4-2 formation primarily with the Under 17 side. His side are known to favor a very compact style of play with a lot of emphasis on percentage football.

Japan look to utilize quick combinations resulting in swift counter-attacks which can be a threat for any opposition. The free scoring form of the Japanese in the AFC Asian Under 16 Championship in India is a testament to the effectiveness of the strategy.

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THE DANGER MEN


 

As mentioned before, the Under 17 teams of Japan has aready produced stars for the national team in the form of Hidetoshi Nakat and no doubt there will be similar expectations of a break-out player emerging from the current crop.

Hidetoshi Nakata

The key players to keep an eye on in this edition are :

Takefusa Kuba – The 16-year old forward is the hottest property in the squad having impressed the Barcelona scouts so much that he was signed for the famous La Masia academy at the age of 10. Kuba shone through his three years with the Catalan club. However, FC Barcelona were found guilty of violating FIFA's international transfer policy follwoing which made Kuba ineligible to represent the Catalonians. He has since returned to join FC Tokyo in the J-League. Despite his young age, the boy who has been dubbed as the "Japanese Messi' has already become the lynchpin of FC Tokyo's Under 23 reserve squad and in April this year became the youngest player to score in the J-League at 15 years, 10 months. Following May, he made his frist team debut in the J-League YBC Levain Club. He has already representated Japan at the FIFA Under 20 World Cup in May this year. Having achieved so much already, much will be expected from Kuba in India this October and he will definitely be worth keeping an eye on.

Hiroto Yamada - The 17-year old forward is another exciting player in the Japanese ranks. Yamada plays for the Japenese side Cerezo Osaka in the J-League. Last year, he made his debut for the Cerezo Osaka Under 23's in a J3 League game and in doing so, became the youngest player ever to make an appearance in the Japanese football league system. With such credentials, Yamada will be another exciting player to watch out for in this edition.

 

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