Japan’s quest to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup continues this week with matches against Vietnam and Oman, and once again it’s a cadre of MEIJI YASUDA J.LEAGUE stars past and present leading the way for the Samurai Blue.
10 of the 28 players manager Hajime Moriyasu called in for the two qualifiers currently play in the league, with Yokohama F·Marinos’ striker and Golden Boot leader Daizen Maeda out front. Vissel Kobe’s Yuya Osako has more international goals than anyone else on the Japan roster and will join Maeda as an option up front, along with Kashima Antlers’ Ayase Ueda.
F.C.Tokyo’s Yuto Nagatomo and his 129 caps will be along the back line for the Samurai Blue, as well as Kawsaki Frontale’s Shogo Taniguchi, Miki Yamane and Reo Hatate, and Urawa Reds’ Hiroko Sakai. In goal, Shimizu S-Pulse’s Shuichi Gonga is on the squad, as well as Kosei Tani, who plays for Shonan Bellmare on loan from Gamba Osaka.
Maya Yoshia is once again the Japan captain, as the Nagoya Grampus academy product joins up from Serie A side Sampdoria. There are a handful of recent J.LEAGUE exports in the squad, like Kyogo Furuhashi, who led the league in goals before leaving Vissel Kobe for Scottish Premiership side Celtic F.C. in the summer. Ao Tanaka, who left Kawasaki Frontale on loan in the summer for German Bundesliga club Fortuna Düsseldorf, is also in the team.
Japan will play away to Vietnam on November 11 before traveling to Oman for a contest on November 16. The Samurai Blue are currently level with Oman on six points in Group B play, trailing Australia by three points and Saudi Arabia by six. They need to get into the top two of the group to automatically qualify for the World Cup, with third place going into playoffs for a chance at earning a ticket to Qatar.