Japan World Cup 2022 squad: Final team for tournament in Qatar

Takumi Minamino Japan World Cup 2022 squad
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Japan World Cup 2022 squad has been announced, with manager Hajime Moriyasu stating he opted for players with "burning ambition" over experience at the finals this month.

Japan face Germany, Costa Rica and Spain in Group E of the Qatar World Cup, having booked their place at the showpiece event in Qatar relatively comfortably. 

Japan are old hands now: this is their seventh successive World Cup finals. 

The real aim in Qatar, however, is to reach the knockout stages for a fourth time, following last-16 appearances in 2002, 2010 and 2018. They’ve been placed in a tough group with Germany, Spain and Costa Rica, though there is a quiet confidence that this talented Samurai Blue side has what it takes.  

During qualifying, the Samurai Blue learned, once again, that they have it too easy in Asia, with few tough tests to prepare them for facing the big boys. There was a surprise home loss to Oman and a defeat in Saudi Arabia, but qualification was rarely in doubt. The real worry came in June’s Kirin Cup as Japan lost 3-0 at home to Tunisia.

There’s more strength in depth now, even before you get to the high-quality exports spread across Germany, Spain, France and England, and no little experience at the back. When they’re in the groove, Japan keep the ball well and can pass through any defence. 

However, Japan can lack ruthlessness. Japan’s approach play can be beautiful but they spurn too many chances – 12 goals in 10 games in the final round of qualifying is testament to that. Also, manager Hajime Moriyasu is seen as being too willing to play with the handbrake on.

Their style of football will likely endear themselves as everyone’s favourite second team, though, with an easy-on-the-eye style and players in most of Europe’s big leagues – there will be many a club supporter cheering on their home favourites.

A first ever quarter-final is certainly the team, but, while a surprise against a European giant is possible - Japan have more Middle East experience than most -  the group stage may be their limit. That would also continue the pattern at their six World Cup appearances so far, alternating group and last-16 exits.

Japan World Cup 2022 squad

Japan World Cup 2022 squad: The squad for the tournament in Qatar

  • GK: Eiji Kawashima (Strasbourg) 
  • GK: Shuichi Gonda (Shimizu S-Pulse)
  • GK: Daniel Schmidt (Sint-Truiden)
  • DF: Takehiro Tomiyasu (Arsenal)
  • DF: Shogo Taniguchi (Kawasaki Frontale)
  • DF: Yuto Nagatomo (FC Tokyo)
  • DF: Miki Yamane (Kawasaki Frontale)
  • DF: Maya Yoshida (Schalke 04)
  • DF: Hiroki Sakai (Urawa Red Diamonds) 
  • DF: Hiroki Ito (Stuttgart)
  • DF: Ko Itakura (Borussia Monchengladbach)
  • MF: Gaku Shibasaki (Leganes)
  • MF: Takumi Minamino (Monaco)
  • MF: Takefusa Kubo (Real Sociedad)
  • MF: Hidemasa Morita (Sporting CP)
  • MF: Wataru Endo (Stuttgart)
  • MF: Junya Ito (Reims)
  • MF: Ao Tanaka (Fortuna Dusseldorf)
  • MF: Kaoru Mitoma (Brighton)
  • MF: Daichi Kamada (Eintracht Frankfurt)
  • MF: Ritsu Doan (Freiburg)
  • MF: Yuki Soma (Nagoya Grampus) 
  • FW: Ayase Ueda (Cercle Brugge)
  • FW: Takuma Asano (Bochum)
  • FW: Daizen Maeda (Celtic)
  • FW: Shuto Machino (Shonan Bellmare)

Japan top scorers

Here are Japan's World Cup 2022 top scorers:

Two goals: Ritsu Doan

One goal: Takuma Asano, Ao Tanaka

Japan yellow cards

Here are Japan's World Cup 2022 yellow cards and suspensions:

1 yellow card: Ko Itakura, Shogo Taniguchi, Maya Yoshida

Japan manager

Who is Japan's manager for the 2022 World Cup?

Hajime Moriyasu has bossed the national team since 2018, having previously led Sanfrecce Hiroshima to three J.League titles. He is often criticised for his cautiousness – the Olympic team’s failure to reach last year’s final on home soil being cited as one example – but a more conservative approach could work well against Spain and Germany.

Japan's star player

Who is Japan's best player?

Defensive midfielder Wataru Endo makes Japan tick. In each of the past two seasons, the 29-year-old has made more tackles in the Bundesliga than any other player, and his leadership skills have earned him the Stuttgart armband – unusual for an Asian player in one of Europe’s major leagues. If Endo plays well, Japan play well.

How many players are Japan allowed to take to the 2022 World Cup?

National managers were allowed to bring 26 players to last summer’s European Championship for the first time at a major tournament, as a special measure brought in due to the COVID-19 pandemic – while last year's Copa America allowed squads of 28 players.

Now it has been announced that 26-player squads will return for the Qatar World Cup, an expansion from the usual 23-man teams.

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Greg Lea

Greg Lea is a freelance football journalist who's filled in wherever FourFourTwo needs him since 2014. He became a Crystal Palace fan after watching a 1-0 loss to Port Vale in 1998, and once got on the scoresheet in a primary school game against Wilfried Zaha's Whitehorse Manor (an own goal in an 8-0 defeat).

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