Japan

2006-06-01 12:52

Berlin - Thirty-two teams have qualified for the 2006 World Cup finals which take place in Germany from June 9 - July 9.

JAPAN

Honours:

World Cup appearances: 2 (1998, 2002)

World Cup best: Last 16 (2002)

Asian Cup champions: 3 (1992, 2000, 2004)

Fifa world ranking: 17

Odds: 150/1

Coach: Zico

Arguably the greatest Brazilian footballer never to win the World Cup as a player, Zico struggled to win over his critics in Japan after taking over from Philippe Troussier following the 2002 finals.

Gradually though Zico has won over the fans, and erased any doubts about his coaching talents after successfully defending the Asian Cup in China two years ago with a side missing several Europe-based stars.

Key player: Shunsuke Nakamura

Overlooked for the 2002 World Cup, Nakamura has since emerged as the primary creative force in the Japanese midfield, a player of exceptional flair and vision. He was the key figure in Japan's 2004 Asian Cup success, scoring a spectacular goal against Oman and setting up two in the final.

Nakamura has matured since moving from the J-League to Europe in 2002, where a spell with Reggina was followed by a move to Celtic last year.

Squad:

Goalkeepers:

Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi (Jubilo Iwata), Seigo Narazaki (Nagoya Grampus Eight), Yoichi Doi (FC Tokyo)

Defenders:

Akira Kaji (FC Tokyo), Yuichi Komano (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Yuji Nakazawa (Yokohama Marinos), Tsuneyasu Miyamoto (Gamba Osaka), Keisuke Tsuboi (Urawa Red Diamonds), Teruyuki Moniwa (FC Tokyo), Alessandro "Alex" Santos (Urawa Red Diamonds), Koji Nakata (FC Basel/SUI)

Midfielders:

Takashi Fukunishi (Jubilo Iwata), Junichi Inamoto (West Brom/ENG), Hidetoshi Nakata (Bolton/ENG), Shinji Ono (Urawa Red Diamonds), Mitsuo Ogasawara (Kashima Antlers), Yasuhito Endo (Gamba Osaka), Shunsuke Nakamura (Celtic/SCO)

Forwards:

Naohiro Takahara (Hamburg SV/GER), Masashi Oguro (Grenoble/FRA), Atsushi Yanagisawa (Kashima Antlers), Keiji Tamada (Nagoya Grampus Eight), Seiichiro Maki (JEF United Chiba)

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