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World Cup Boosts Japanese Football

newsonjapan.com -- Feb 09
Many regions and nations took positives from the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Asia certainly did itself a lot of good by outperforming a lot of the predictions made pre-tournament. Don’t forget that Saudi Arabia defeated eventual winners Argentina in their first game. But, of all Asian nations, Japan was the star of the show, and Japanese football has been boosted as a result.

When the draw for the World Cup finals was made, and Japan were entered into Group E, which also featured powerhouses of international football, Germany and Spain, as well as Costa Rica, people didn’t hold out much hope of the Japanese progressing from the group stage, as was seen at all the major football betting platforms online. But Japan didn’t travel to Qatar to make up the numbers, and while they lost to Costa Rica, they recorded historic victories over both Germany and Spain.

At times, there have been suggestions that Japan’s success at international level is always going to come down to a mixture of hard work, luck and stronger opponents taking their eye off the ball somewhat. But, while there was a lot of hard work from the Japanese in Qatar, with their run cruelly ended via a penalty shootout against Croatia, they also displayed plenty of technical ability, which has gone a long way in raising the profile of Japanese footballers.

There were already a large number of Japanese footballers who had and have made the switch to some of Europe’s top leagues and clubs. Takehiro Tomiyaso is plying his trade at Arsenal in the Premier League, while Kaoru Mitoma is currently taking the English top flight by storm for Brighton, with many tipping the winger to go on to even bigger things in the summer. Japanese players are also playing at the very top in Spain, France and Germany, to name several more countries.

And, since the World Cup, there have been Japanese players who are currently playing in Japan linked with moves into Europe. While Scottish giants Celtic and Rangers had already cast their eye towards the J1 League, Japan’s top tier, for talent, with a whole host playing in the Scottish Premier League, other clubs from elsewhere will undoubtedly follow suit moving forwards. This will, in turn, continue to lift the profile of Japanese football and footballers from the country.

Make no mistake about it; Japan's performance in Qatar has helped significantly in this. And it will become a mutually beneficial situation over time too. The more Japanese players entering Europe's top leagues will ensure they have access to the best facilities, coaches and teammates. They will also be facing off against a high level of opposition week in, week out. More money will go into Japanese football thanks to players moving abroad. The eventual benefactor will be the Japanese national team which will ultimately get stronger and continue to impress at major tournaments such as future World Cups.

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