World Cup 2018: Asian Reputation depends on Japan

The success of Japan through Group H restored Asia’s reputation in the World Cup 2018. Once again, Asia put representatives in the knockout stage after slumping in 2014.

In the fourth edition of last year, all representatives of Asia failed to qualified to Round of 16 in the group phase. They are Japan, South Korea, Australia and Iran.

How similar is almost felt again at this year’s World Cup. Following the failure of Iran, South Korea and Australia, Japan was almost eliminated by losing 0-1 to Poland in the Group’s closing match at Volgograd Arena on Thursday (28/06/2018).

Luckily Senegal also tumbled with the same score against Colombia. These conditions make Japan escape thanks to the value of fair play.

“We have to rely on other outcomes, it’s regrettable,” said Japan coach Akira Nishino.

Since the World Cup used the round of 16 in 1986, Asia began to place representatives in 1994. It was Saudi Arabia who did it.

Having collapsed in 1998, Asia fluttered in 2002 when South Korea and Japan hosted. South Korea advance to the semi-finals, which until now recorded as the best achievement of Asian teams in the World Cup. While Japan stalled in the quarter-final. Asia again failed in 2006, before sending two teams in the round of 16 in 2010, South Korea and Japan are doing it again. And for the 2018 World Cup, Japan became the only Asian country left after South Korea failed to advance to the next round despite beating Germany 2-0.

The “Samurai Blue”, nickname of the Japan football team, are traditional powerhouses when it comes to Asian football. They are well known for their exquisite ball control and passing which has helped them in maintaining their position over the years and there are not many teams in Asia who are superior than coach Akira Nishino’s side. But, on the global stage, Japan have never tasted much success and in spite of qualifying for the FIFA World Cup for consecutive six times, the team has made it to the round of 16 just twice in their hisotry – 2002 and 2010. However the four-time Asian champions will be looking forward for Round of 16 World Cup 2018.

Japan have hope to make their mark in this World Cup 2018. Keisuke Honda, Shinji Kagawa and Shinji Okazaki are all over the age of 28 but the trio are well-versed with the European style of playing and they will play a huge role in determining their team’s fortune in Russia.

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