【EAFF E-1 Football Championship 2022 Final Japan】SAMURAI BLUE seeking to win first title in four tournaments while searching for new talents
15 July 2022
The EAFF E-1 Football Championship 2022 Final, a tournament that decides the champions of the East Asian region, will be held for the first time in three years, since the last tournament was held in Korea Republic in 2019. Japan, Korea Republic, and China PR took turns to host the tournament, and this year's tournament was originally scheduled to be held in China PR, but due to quarantine measures taken by the Chinese government against COVID-19, it was decided that this year' s tournament would be held in Japan.
This year's tournament did not have a qualifying round as in the previous years, and DPR Korea's withdrawal from the men's competition resulted in Hong Kong being moved up into the tournament based on the FIFA rankings among the national teams of the East Asian Football Federation (EAFF). Four teams, Japan, Korea Republic, China PR, and Hong Kong will compete for the title in a single-round-robin format. In the last eight editions, Korea Republic, currently the three-time reigning champions, boast the most titles with five, while China PR have won the title twice. Japan's only title came in 2013.
With the tournament being held in their home country, the objective of the SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) is clear, as Head Coach MORIYASU Hajime stated, “Our goal for the EAFF E-1 Football Championship is to win the title.” Japan will play their first match against Hong Kong on Tuesday 19 July at Kashima Soccer Stadium with hopes to start their campaign with a win. If they drop points here, their path to the championship will be difficult. The second match on Sunday 24th will be against China PR at Toyota Stadium. Although the squad is vastly different from the AFC Asian Qualifiers (Road to Qatar), where Japan won twice in two matches against China PR, this is a match that they certainly want to win. The ideal scenario would be to cap off the tournament with a win against Korea Republic on Wednesday 27th to hoist the championship cup.
Alongside the team's bid for the title, it will be interesting to see how the players perform in their bid to make the squad for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, which kicks off on Monday 21 November this year, as coach Moriyasu shared his aspiration for this EAFF E-1 Football Championship, “We hope to build depth of our team and head into the World Cup with solid results and performance.” Among the 26 players announced on 13 July, all of whom belong to clubs in the J.League, 10 were called up for the first time, while 12 have never played in an international A-match, setting up the stage for new talents to be discovered.
A number of players have made their national team debuts at this tournament in the past, including OSAKO Yuya in 2013, ENDO Wataru in 2015, ITO Junya in 2017, and TANAKA Ao in 2019, who have grown into indispensable mainstays of the current SAMURAI BLUE squad. It is hoped that these new players will be able to make their mark at this year's tournament and earn a place in the World Cup squad. It will be interesting to see how the players showcase their talents as the team strive for victory.
EAFF E-1 Football Championship 2022 Final Japan (Men's Tournament)
Tournament Dates: Tue. 19 - Wed. 27 July 2022
Venues: Kashima Soccer Stadium (Ibaraki), Toyota Stadium (Aichi)
Participating Countries: Japan, China PR, Korea Republic, Hong Kong
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