The footballing relationship between Japan and Thailand has been strong and ever-growing, and that will continue on New Year’s Day 2024 when the two countries’ national teams meet for a terrific friendly at the Japan National Stadium.
The Meiji Yasuda J.League has been a major force in the strong football ties between the two countries as their J.League Asian Strategy to help grow the sport across the continent has been especially successful in Thailand. The J.League has a partnership with the Thai League and the J.League Asia Challenge was hosted in Thailand in 2017, 2019 and 2022.
Maybe most impactfully, top Thai players have made the move to the J.League and played well in the Japanese league. Chanathip Songkrasin starred at Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo before playing for a title contending Kawasaki Frontale side, while Supachok Sarachat has been one of Consa’s most dynamic players all season, and both are expected to be in the lineup when Thailand take on Japan in Tokyo.
The January 1 match will serve as a proper kickoff to the new year, as the Samurai Blue and War Elephants clash for the first time since qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Japan won both of their meetings then, first in 2016 and then again in 2017. This friendly will not have the same stakes as those qualifiers, but it will be a fabulous celebration of the sport and the two countries’ football relationship to begin 2024.