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Japan national football team at the 2006 Football World Cup

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By user Bobo

The Japanese have impressed over the last eight years. They've qualified for their third consecutive World Cup finals, after dominating so much in other sports (particularly given their recent upsurge in baseball). However, few of their national football team, (save for Hidetoshi Nakata, Shunsuke Nakamura, and Junichi Inamoto) are household names. A couple of other players ply their trade in Europe, such as Crvena Zvezda's Takayuki Suzuki and Daisuke Matsui from Le Mans, in France.

That aside, they can be proud of what they achieved in 2002, having overcome the group stages and made it into round two of their home World Cup, before losing to semi-finalists Turkey. Certainly not a disgraceful showing.

However, they face a tricky task in qualifying for the next round of the cup, thanks to the presence of Brazil and Croatia. Less so Australia, but may they be my last words?

Their most recent International tournament appearance was in the AFC Asia Cup, and who knows... they've won that three times, having to overcome Iran, Oman and Thailand in the process, as well as Jordan, and Bahrain and China in the final stages.

They'll struggle against the top names of Brazil and Croatia, but if they can get past either, they stand a chance of an appearance in the knockout stages. Roll on.

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