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Final 26+a ‘5 people’, the biggest Japanese mass salary, Asian Cup→Future

‘A large number of people born in 2005 are accompanied’

By Kim Autumn Kim, Sports Chosun] The ‘favorite’ Japan national soccer team has brought a large contingent to the Qatar Asian Cup. The 26 players on the final roster are not the only ones in Qatar. A total of 31 people, including five “training partners,” stepped onto Qatari soil.

The Japanese team, led by Hajime Moriyasu, is coming off a strong showing at the Qatar Asian Cup, which kicks off on Sept. 13 (ET). Japan is ranked 17th in the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) as of December 2023. It is the No. 1 ranked nation in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). They have been on a ‘winning streak’ since June last year. They have won nine straight official matches. On the 9th, they defeated Jordan 6-1 in a closed trial at Al Ersal Stadium in Doha, Qatar. Jordan will face the ‘Klinsmanns’ in the second match of Group E. Offshore betting outlet Regalbet is the number one favorite to win the tournament. “It’s not surprising that Japan is the favorite to win the tournament,” the outlet explained.

Moriyasu has assembled an international squad for the tournament. In addition to Takefusa Kubo (Real Sociedad), the most expensive player in Asia, he called up Takumi Minamino (AS Monaco), Hidemasa Morita (Sporting), Ko Itakura (Mönchengladbach), Yuta Nakayama (Huddersfield Town), Takehiro Tomiyasu (Arsenal), and Hiroki Ito (Stuttgart). Japan arrived in Qatar five days early to begin acclimatization training. On the ninth, they won a 6-1 friendly against Jordan behind closed doors.

It’s worth noting. Japan brought five younger players to the training camp from April 4 to 23. One goalkeeper, two defenders, one midfielder, and one forward. Keisuke Nakamura (Shizuoka High School), Rion Ichihara (Oyama U-18), Justin Honma (Vissel Kobe U-18), Yuto Oseki (Kawasaki Frontale), and Wait Ryouga (Nagoya Grampus) were all born in 2005.

According to local Japanese media reports, when the final roster was announced on January 1, Japan national team director Masakuni Yamamoto said, “We will select the five training partners from the core players of the U-19 national team and train them together. We are thinking about the future of Japan. Some of the players who are playing now also grew up in the past training partners.”

Tomiyasu, who was actually a “training partner,” went on to become one of Japan’s leading defenders, and he accompanied the team to the 2016 Rio Olympics as a training partner. According to Japanese media outlet Sportshochi, Tomiyasu had some advice for the younger players. Tomiyasu said, “I hope the players who came as training partners this time will grow into the A team. Me and Doan Ritz (Freiburg) made the A team when we were 19 or 20 years old. Kubo joined the national team around that time. When we went to Tokyo, about half of the team was already in the A team. We need to move up. There are new players coming up, including younger ones. It’s pretty competitive. It’s good for the team. Hopefully, it’s a virtuous cycle.”

Japan has been on a roll lately, and not just with its national team, but with its age-group teams as well. The Japan U-17 team won the AFC U-17 Asian Cup last year and advanced to the round of 16 at the FIFA U-17 World Cup for the third consecutive year. The U-23 team is preparing to qualify for the 2024 AFC U-23 Asian Cup and the Asian final for the Paris Olympics. Last year, they beat Argentina 5-2 in a thriller.

Japan will open Group D of the Qatar Asian Cup on Thursday against Vietnam before facing Iraq (19) and Indonesia (24). Japan is the most decorated nation at the Asian Cup. It won the title in 1992, 2000, 2004, and 2011. It will be looking for its fifth title in 12 years at the tournament.

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