After 14 matches, Japan’s 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign came to an end on Tuesday with a 1-1 draw against Vietnam. The Samurai Blue had already clinched qualification last week with an impressive 2-0 win in Australia, and now they have finished their entire qualifying slate.
A heavily rotated side took the pitch at Saitama Stadium 2002 and they struggled early, falling behind after 19 minutes. Japan battled back, however, eventually earning a point through Maya Yoshida, a product of Nagoya Grampus and the current national team captain.
With qualifying in the rearview mirror, Japan can now turn their attention to the World Cup. The tournament kicks off in less than eight months and the Samurai Blue will be watching in the early hours of Saturday when the draw is held in Doha, setting the path in Qatar.
Hajime Moriyasu’s squad has been made up of J.League players from the very start of qualifying, with every player in the team either currently in the Japanese domestic league or a member of a J.League club earlier in their career. It is where Japan’s stars are made, and those stars will now set their sights on Qatar, where they can shine for their country on the biggest stage in sports.