The Meiji Yasuda J.League sent 10 players to the 2022 FIFA World Cup and all 10 have advanced with their teams to the knockout stages.
Japan had the bulk of the J.League contingent, bringing seven players from the domestic competition to Qatar. The Samurai Blue beat 2014 World Cup champions Germany to open the group stage and 2010 winners Spain to close it, finishing atop Group E.
In addition to the seven J.League players on the Samurai Blue team, the other 19 players in the squad all began their professional careers in the domestic league. The Samurai Blue are a team of all J.Leaguers, and they are Round of 16 bound.
Australians Mitchell Duke and Thomas Deng are also on their way to the Round of 16 after the Socceroos finished second in Group D. Fagiano Okayama’s Duke scored the lone goal in Australia’s win over Tunisia and then the Socceroos defeated Denmark to punch their ticket out of the group stage.
Finally, Gamba Osaka’s Kwon Kyung-won started in South Korea’s dramatic group stage finale against Portugal. The Taegeuk Warriors needed a win to make it out of Group H and, after conceding an early goal, stormed back to beat Portugal and book their place in the knockout stages.
Japan will play Croatia in the next round, while Australia will take on Argentina, and South Korea are set to meet Brazil.
It’s been a banner World Cup for the J.League and the fun is only getting started. Congrats to all 10 J.League representatives in Qatar - you’re all moving on!