At the World Cup in 2022, the Japan national football team, the Blue Samurai, will not have an easy time of it.

Teams coached by Hajime Moriyasu will compete in Group E alongside Germany, who won the tournament in 2014, Costa Rica, who made the quarterfinals in 2014, and Spain, who won the tournament in 2010.

The fact that Japan’s team routinely outperforms expectations is a source of motivation for the country.

Despite being put in a group with Poland, Senegal, and Colombia for the 2018 World Cup, it was still able to proceed to the round of 16.

A strong performance at the World Cup in South Africa in 2010 was followed by a disappointing showing at the World Cup in 2014, during which they were eliminated in the group stage but advanced to the knockout stage, where they were defeated on penalties by Paraguay. During that competition, Japan won matches against Denmark and Cameroon, sandwiching a defeat at the hands of eventual runners-up Netherlands that ended in a 1-0 score.

Dan Orlowitz, a sports reporter for the Japan Times, was quoted as saying to Al Jazeera that “it’s not going to be an easy path” to get out of the group. “Everyone is in agreement that the most practical route forward would be to win against Costa Rica and then at least draw with either Germany or Spain. This would be the best possible outcome.” If the squad plays to the best of its abilities, achieving such results won’t be simple, but it’s not inconceivable either.

There are a few of Japanese players now competing in Europe. The team, which, on paper, is better than it has ever been in terms of the technical qualities they possess.

On the other hand, they have struggled to maintain composure and leadership on the pitch after the departure of previous players Keisuke Honda and Shinji Kagawa, who were both attacking players.

This was demonstrated in their World Cup qualification campaign when they were defeated by Vietnam in their own stadium and held to a draw. They were defeated by Tunisia in Osaka in the month of June with a score of 3-0.

Moriyasu’s team did follow up their impressive performance with good victories over South Korea and the United States, but if they want to move to the knockout phase of the World Cup, they will need to be more clinical in their play.

In order for Orlowitz to win, players like Junya Ito, Kaoru Mitoma, and Daichi Kamada will need to pick up their games.

“Star power is something that our squad desperately needed, and Honda and Kagawa were able to provide that for us.” It is one of the few difficult and intertwined causes underlying the current dip in popularity that the squad has seen. Takefusa Kubo and Takumi Minamino are the faces of the squad in that sense; but, if we are being completely honest, they have not yet really performed when it matters,” stated Orlowitz.

Kamada, who often plays as an offensive midfielder, is the driving force behind the Japanese team and is widely regarded as the Japanese participant in the World Cup who will be most crucial to their success.

In May of this year, he was a key contributor to Eintracht Frankfurt’s victory in the Europa League, which enables him to bring a winning mindset to the team.

Yoichi Tominaga, who has lived in Kagoshima for for 30 years and has been a fan of Japanese football for the entirety of that time, is not overly optimistic about the prospects for his country, however. Tominaga is of the opinion that Moriyasu is making poor strategic choices, which could be detrimental to the team’s performance.

Tominga stated to Al Jazeera that he does not believe the team is moving in the correct path while Moriyasu remains the coach.

Players have faith in him because he is a decent human being, despite the fact that he is not an effective coach. The players could be performing at a far higher level than they are currently if they had access to a coach who had a strong understanding of strategy. We are a team that is considered to be an underdog, but if we are well organized, we might have a chance to overcome formidable teams like Germany and Spain. We will never forget the 2018 World Cup, when we lead Belgium 2-0 before falling 3-2.”

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