A new world surprise occurred in Qatar 2022. In the same style as Saudi Arabia-Argentina, Japan came back and achieved a historic victory against Germany (2-1) for the first date of group E of the World Cup. A result that shocked the four-time world champions and surprised the world.
According to Mister Chip, Germany, that powerhouse that almost always seems like an indestructible machine, had only lost a World Cup game twice after going into halftime with an advantage. He did so in 1938 against Switzerland (2-1 at halftime and ended up losing 4-2) and in 1978 against Austria (0-1, 3-2). This time, at the Khalifa International Stadium, they finished the first 45′ up on the scoreboard thanks to Ilkay Gundogan’s penalty kick.
However, no one expected the end that fate had prepared. Japan reacted, with order and good football, managed to match the game against the German team. And he began to knock on Manuel Neuer’s door, turning the Bayern Munich goalkeeper into one of the figures. But at 75′, after a good collective play, Ritsu Doan equalized.
Just eight minutes later, Takuma Asano took advantage of a defensive error to make it 2-1. The final minutes were heart-stopping, but the Japanese cast kept the first three points in a group that they share with Spain and Costa Rica.
The victory of Japan -historic, obviously- is a world surprise, even more so because they defeated Germany, which was trying to wash face of what happened in Russia 2018 (they were eliminated in the first round). However, these positive results are part of a project in the Asian country that began in 1992 and has the ultimate goal of being world champion in 2092.
The project for Japan to be world champion
Until the World Cup in France in 1998, the Japanese team had never participated in the top event. In 1938 he retired and in 1950 he was not admitted by FIFA for his role in World War II. A national representative who joined in 1920 could not play a World Cup until almost eighty years later.
However, France 98 was for Japan a warning of two things. First, since 1992 they had already started a long-very long-term project to dominate the world with the ball at their feet. And second, because four years later, together with Korea, they would be the organizers of the World Cup and would achieve their best position for the first time: qualify for the round of 16. He did the same in South Africa 2010 and Russia 2018.
In 1992, the Japan Football Federation (JFA) launched the plan that this year marks two decades. The first thing was to attract attention to his league by signing world stars such as Englishman Gary Lineker (Nagoya Grampus Eight) and Brazilian Zico (Kashima Antlers). The idea was to build a financially sustainable and successful league that could attract more fans.
- 1992 – founds the J-League / Wins the Asia Cup
- 1998 – Qualifies for the World Cup for the first time
- 2002 – Organizes the World Cup, together with South Korea / classifies to the round of 16
- 2010 – Qualifies to the round of 16 in South Africa
- 2018 – Classifies to eighths. They went 2-0 over Belgium, who came from behind
- 2019 – Asian Cup Finalist
- 2022 – Beat Germany in the World Cup
The next step was to professionalize the competition that was only framed by twelve large local companies that competed with each other with players who had more than sport as a hobby.
Everything changed for the better in 1998, when Japan played its first World Cup. Being in the most important soccer event, and knowing that they would be the next organizers together with Korea, made work at an accelerated pace and the professionalization of soccer in the country materialized.
Over the years, the JFA managed not only to bring in stars about to retire, such as Andrés Iniesta at Vissel Kobe, but also to pay more attention to the base academies that work with cutting-edge technology to train cracks. For this reason, in recent years, 18-year-old Japanese players have begun to emigrate to Europe.
Take Kubo, for example, arrived at Real Madrid just after coming of age. Although he failed to establish himself as the top winner in the Champions League, the attacker never left the elite that Spanish football means. He was in Mallorca, Villarreal, Getafe and now at Real Sociedad.
Japanese soccer has certainly advanced at a fast pace. In France 98, the Asian team did not have any footballer playing outside the country. At that time, the players prioritized finishing their university studies while they played in the domestic league, which was not one hundred percent professional. Today, 24 years later, the trend is completely the opposite: of the 26 called up in Qatar, 19 play for European clubs and eight do so for German teams. In fact, the authors of the goals play in the league of the country they have just destroyed: Ritsu Doan in Freiburg and Asano in Bochum.
I have worked in the news industry for over 10 years. I have a keen interest in sports and have written for many different publications. I am currently working as an author at 24 News Recorder. I cover mostly sports news but also write about other topics such as current affairs and politics. I have a strong interest in social media and how it can be used to engage with audiences.