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第32回オリンピック競技大会(2020/東京)
第32回オリンピック競技大会(2020/東京) 第32回オリンピック競技大会(2020/東京)
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Games of the XXXII Olympiad
Games of the XXXII Olympiad
Tournament Dates: 23 July 2021 - 8 August 2021
Football Competitions: 21 July 2021 - 7 August 2021

Men:Team History

2017

  • October 2017: Coach MORIYASU Hajime appointed as Head Coach of the U-20 Japan National Team - M-150 CUP 2017

    Setting their eyes on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the new team made their first tournament appearance at the M-150 CUP 2017, an international friendly competition held in Thailand. Coach Moriyasu intentionally selected players who didn’t participate in the FIFA U20 Men's World Cup™ held that summer, with the aim to “provide a wider opportunity for the players of this generation.” Despite losing to Uzbekistan at the final, the team was able to discover new talents like UEDA Ayase, who had no previous call-ups to the national team.

  • ▼Subtopic

    After being named as the Head Coach of the Olympic team, Coach Moriyasu was also appointed to lead the SAMURAI BLUE in July 2018. He became the first coach to manage both teams since Coach Philippe TROUSSIER, who took the helm at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

2018

  • January 2018: AFC U-23 Championship China 2018

    With their eyes set on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Japan entered the AFC U-23 Championship with their U-21 team, where they won three consecutive matches to advance through the group stage. At the quarterfinals, Japan squared off against Uzbekistan, who they faced at the M-150 CUP final. However, as Coach Moriyasu later described, “We were getting mentally exploited,” Uzbekistan capitalised on the mistakes made by the Japanese side to take the initiative and walked away with a 4-0 victory. Coach Moriyasu mentioned after the match, “We were overwhelmed by our opponent. It felt like all of our weaknesses were being exposed in this match.”

  • March 2018: Sport for Tomorrow (SFT) Programme

    The team travelled to Paraguay to face three South American sides. Although Japan was able to win over Venezuela in PKs, the team lost two close matches against Chile and Paraguay, finishing in fourth place out of four teams. Following the tournament, Coach Moriyasu shared his take, “The South American players were not necessarily skilful, but they were strong. They exploited us every time we made a mistake. It was certainly a tough experience, but it allowed us to realise that we need to get stronger.” MAEDA Daizen making a strong showing in his first call-up was a bright side of this tour, but the team was handed a harsh reality check from this tournament.

  • ▼Subtopic

    Sport for Tomorrow is an international sport contribution initiative led by the Japanese government, which aims to spread the value of sports to people across all generations, especially in the developing countries. During this SFT Programme, female coaches representing 10 South American football associations and Paraguayan staffs involved in women’s football were gathered to participate in a seminar that introduced ways to conduct women’s football festivals as a tool to promote the sport.

  • May 2018: The 46th Toulon Tournament

    With Coach Moriyasu attending the SAMURAI BLUE during the same time period, Coach YOKOUCHI Akinobu took over as the acting coach of the U-21 Japan National Team for the first time. After losing to Turkey in their first match, Japan managed to come from behind to win over Portugal, but fell short from reaching the semi-finals, as they drew against Canada in their third match. However, the team showcased their resilience to win over the African powerhouse Togo 1-0 at the seventh place play-off match. As Coach Yokouchi mentioned, “Our players showcased their determination to compete” against opponents with superior physiques and power, the Japanese side went toe to toe with European, North American, and African teams who all played with different styles, earning a priceless experience at the international stage.

  • August 2018: The 18th Asian Games (Jakarta Palembang 2018)

    As Coach Moriyasu described it as “a perfect opportunity” to simulate the Olympics, the tournament played in Indonesia was held under extreme heat and tight match schedule, which was also expected at the Tokyo Olympics. After advancing through their group as the runners-up, Japan showcased their resilience to reach the final by winning close matches throughout the knockout stage. At the final, the U-21 Japan National Team went head to head against the U-23 Korea Republic National Team who had called-up English Premier League superstar Son Heung-min to fill their over-age roster spot. Despite the stark contrast between the two sides’ roster, the match went into overtime, in which the Korean side prevailed at the end. Following the loss, Coach Moriyasu praised his players, “They fought extremely hard until the end. This performance gives us great confidence moving forward.”

  • November 2018: Dubai Cup U-23

    Players of the U-19 Japan National Team, including HASHIOKA Daiki, made their first call-up to the team as they travelled to the Middle East. Following a 2-2 draw against their nemesis Uzbekistan, Japan went onto win their second match against Kuwait 5-0. Japan had to win their third match against the host country UAE in order to claim the title, but conceded the opening goal from a PK. Despite the equaliser scored by Ueda, Japan fell short from taking the lead, as they finished second in the tournament. Coach Yokouchi later reflected, “We were able to find out our strengths and weaknesses from this competition.”

2019

  • March 2019: AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020 Qualifiers

    The AFC U23 Championship, which serves as the Asian qualifiers for the Tokyo Olympics, held its qualification round in Myanmar. Japan had already clinched the Olympics as the host country, but Coach Yokouchi saw this as an opportunity to gain precious match experience, as he shared his take, “Our opponents are in a situation where they cannot afford to lose.” Japan blew the competition away in all three matches, but more than anything, the team was able to gain the experience of playing through consecutive matches under extreme heat, as Coach Yokouchi mentioned, “We stressed the importance of maintaining our conditions while playing multiple matches within a short span.”

  • June 2019: The 47th Toulon Tournament

    Despite losing their core players to the SAMURAI BLUE, who were participating in the Copa America, the Olympic team entered the prestigious international tournament with players Coach Yokouchi described as “Players with strong spirit of defiance.” The team came from behind to defeat the three time defending champions England in the first match, followed by a 6-1 victory over Chile. Despite losing the third match, Japan advanced to the semi-finals where they edged Mexico in PKs to reach the final. Japan showcased a tenacious effort against Brazil at the final but ended up losing in PKs. With TANAKA Ao being named as the third candidate for the tournament MVP award, the tournament turned out to be a fruitful event for the Japanese side, both as a team and as individuals.

  • June 2019: CONMEBOL Copa America Brazil 2019 ※SAMURAI BLUE

    Although the tournament was a scheduled event for the senior squad, 18 out of 23 players on the roster featured U-22 players, as Coach Moriyasu mentioned that he was “looking ahead to the Tokyo Olympics” upon making his decision. Despite getting eliminated at the group stage, the team drew against the South American powerhouse Uruguay and showcased a performance in their third match that almost clinched them the spot into the knockout stage. Through the daily trainings with veteran players like KAWASHIMA Eiji and OKAZAKI Shinji, the U-22 players were given a precious experience to learn what it truly means to play for the national team.

  • September 2019: International Friendly Match - North and Central America Tour

    The team played in away matches against Mexico and USA at the North and Central America tour. “With less than a year left ahead of the Olympics, we could fix the roster to start building the team, but the players of the underage categories are still in their development stage,” said Coach Moriyasu, as he continued to seek for new talents, “We decided not to call-up the usual players in consideration of their physical conditions.” Players like SEKO Ayumu were newly called-up from younger categories, in a tour that turned out to be a tough outing where the team was kept scoreless in a draw against Mexico and loss against USA.

  • October 2019: International Friendly Match – Brazil Tour

    Japan faced Brazil in an away match that took place at Arena Pernambuco, which was a stadium utilised during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™. The players were overwhelmed by the aggressive pressure applied by the Brazilian side and conceded the opening goal from a PK but managed to equalise with the goal scored by Tanaka. With momentum on their side, Japan scored two more goals in the second half to take the lead. Despite giving up a goal to Brazil and receiving a red card in the closing minutes, Japan showcased their resilience to win the match 3-2 as Coach Yokouchi later reflected, “Every player fulfilled their duties and executed the game plan to earn this result.”

  • November 2019: KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2019 @Hiroshima

    The team entered the match with nearly their best squad, as they called-up DOAN Ritsu, KUBO Takefusa, and ITAKURA Kou, who were involved with the SAMURAI BLUE in the previous month. The match represented the team’s first official match played in Japan, simulating the atmosphere the team would face at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. However, the team showcased a poor outing where they were caught off guard to concede goals while being kept scoreless in a 0-2 loss. Coach Moriyasu later described, “Facing a must win situation, the players were overwhelmed by the pressure. We entered the match poorly, allowed our opponent to take the initiative, and made it a tough match on ourselves.”

  • ▼Subtopic

    The first match took place at Hiroshima in November, while the second took place at Nagasaki in December. With the KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP being held at the only two cities in the world affected by the atomic bomb, JFA hosted the “BLUE PEACE DAYS sending a peaceful pass to the world and the future, from HIROSHIMA・NAGASAKI” Project during the two matches. As part of the project, the players offered flowers and origami cranes that were sent from the fans and supporters, at the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima and the Nagasaki National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims in Nagasaki.

  • December 2019: EAFF E‑1 Football Championship 2019 Finals ※SAMURAI BLUE

    Due to schedule conflict with the players playing in Europe, the team named 23 players from the domestic league, which included 14 players from the U-22 category. After winning their first match against China PR 2-1, the team started nine players from the U-22 category in their second match against Hong Kong, where they won 5-0. Despite losing to Korea Republic 0-1 at the final, the tournament provided a precious opportunity for the U-22 players to gain match experience at the senior level.

  • December 2019: KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2019 @Nagasaki

    Following their match against Columbia in November, in which NAKAYAMA Yuta mentioned they “lacked communication,” the team took down the barriers within the team to immerse in active discussions. Their approach came to fruition, as Nakayama reflected, “We were able to face the same direction and stay on the same page” to earn themselves a 9-0 victory. Coach Moriyasu also shared his satisfaction, “Including how we entered the match, the players learned from the previous match and made the necessary adjustments.”

2020

  • January 2020: AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020

    With the tournament taking place in the midst of the European season, Japan entered with a squad consisting of mostly players from the domestic league. The team was eliminated at the group stage after earning just one point in three matches. With the tournament serving as the final qualification round for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, opponents played with great intensity, handing Japan two consecutive losses in their first two matches. Despite seeing one of their players getting sent off, Japan drew against Qatar in their third match, as Coach Moriyasu later reflected, “We were mentally dejected at that point, but the players showcased their perseverance.” Following the tournament, many players shared their remorse, including SOMA Yuki who mentioned, “It’s best if we can win all of our matches, but we can still learn from our losses, so we must make the most of this experience.”

  • ―Hiatus (Introduction of “Ready For The Future”)―

    Due to the influence of COVID-19, all activities were unexpectedly suspended, and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics was also postponed to the next year. That is when the players came up with the idea of creating a video titled “Ready for the Future.” A total of 78 players (including those who did not participate) who were called-up to the team that was launched in December 2017 for the purpose of competing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, appeared in the video to send out words of encouragement to those who are struggling through the pandemic, while also sharing their dreams towards the Tokyo Olympics.

  • December 2020: Training camp @Prince Takamado Memorial JFA YUME Field

    The team was reassembled after all activities were shut down for nearly a year due to the corona-pandemic. Nine players were newly called-up for the training camp, as Coach Moriyasu mentioned, “Many new talents have emerged while the Olympics was postponed for a year.” The team played a training match against the Kanto University Select Team on the 26th, where they won 4-0. Many players considered this camp as their final opportunity to make a case for themselves, giving them extra motivation to do well on the pitch. The camp allowed the team to discover new talents ahead of the Olympics, as Coach Moriyasu shared his gratitude, “We are thankful to be given this precious opportunity.”

  • ▼Subtopic

    This was the first time the team trained at the Prince Takamado Memorial JFA YUME Field, which opened in 2020. As the “Base of Japan National Team,” the new facility enables close cooperation among various teams of the Japan National Team, as all the functions are being centralised in one location.

2021

  • March 2021: SAISON CARD CUP 2021@Tokyo, Kitakyushu

    Two friendly matches against a true international powerhouse were scheduled, as Japan squared off against the U-24 Argentina National Team. Japan lost the first match 0-1 as they struggled against what Coach Yokouchi described as “a play style rarely seen in Japan.” However, the team bounced back in the second match, where they took the initiative from the early minutes to earn a 3-0 victory. Reflecting on the match, Coach Yokouchi praised his players by pointing out, “We were able to win more duels than our opponent.” HAYASHI Daichi brought more competition to the team, as the striker scored a goal in his first call-up to the team.

  • June 2021: vs SAMURAI BLUE

    After it was reported that the match between the SAMURAI BLUE and Jamaica National Team was cancelled, the U-24 Japan National Team made a sudden schedule change to travel to Sapporo to play against the senior squad at Sapporo Dome. While the SAMURAI BLUE featured veteran players like OSAKO Yuya and NAGATOMO Yuto, who have played in the FIFA World Cup™, the U-24 Japan National Team started the match without their over-age players. After conceding the opening goal in the early minutes of the first half, the U-24 Japan National Team bounced back to create several opportunities but ended up conceding two more goals to lose the match 0-3. While this match turned out to be a disappointing match for many of the U-24 players, ENDO Wataru, who was named as one of the over-age players, shared his optimism after the match, “The fact that our opponent (players of the SAMURAI BLUE) wasn’t cutting corners made this a good match.” The 28 year old midfielder stressed the importance for the team to use this match as a learning experience to identify and improve their flaws ahead of the Olympics.

  • June 2021: International Friendly Match vs U-24 Ghana National Team

    With the Tokyo Olympics just around the corner, the U-24 Japan National Team played in an international friendly match against the U-24 Ghana National Team at Best Denki Stadium (Fukuoka) on Saturday 5 June. The match was scheduled to simulate their first group stage match against South Africa at the Olympics. For this match, Japan elected to start all three of their over-age players, YOSHIDA Maya, SAKAI Hiroki, and Endo. Despite having only two days to prepare for the match, the U-24 Japan National Team managed to earn a 6-0 victory to build momentum ahead of the Olympics.

  • June 2021: International Friendly Match vs Jamaica National Team

    Following their match against Ghana, the U-24 Japan National Team faced the Jamaica National Team in an international friendly match played at Toyota Stadium (Aichi) on Saturday 12 June. This match against Jamaica’s senior squad was the final prep match before announcing the 18-man roster for the Olympics, which would conclude the series of activities that took place since 31 May. Although the number was limited due to the countermeasures against COVID-19, fans were allowed into the stadium, giving the players extra motivation to showcase a strong performance. The U-24 Japan National Team showcased their dominance by keeping the Jamaican side to zero shots in their 4-0 shutout victory, concluding the series of activities held in June on a high note.

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