Host Japan has home side advantage but they have had very little international experience in the past two years leading up to the competition, and haven’t had much success at this competition. They also missed the 2012 Summer Paralympics, but did pull off a silver medal performance at this year’s 2014 Para Asian Games. Early in 2014, they finished last in a French hosted four nation tournament that included France, Argentina and Spain. Appearing at their third world championship, based on past performance, people should not have high expectation. Still, they could surprise everyone with a fifth place finish.
The lack of international experience and a history of performing poorly at the highest level has the potential to hurt this team, as they came out of hibernation this year. At the 2006 championships, Japan finished seventh in a pool eight deep. At the 2002 International Blind Soccer Tournament, they lost every game they played in.
Based on historical performance, Japan has the ability to do well against some of the teams at the competition.They also managed a 1 – 1 draw against France at the 2006 World Championships.
In pool play, Japan does not have much experience against their opposition. Against France, they drew 1 – 1 at the 2006 World Championships, and tied them again at the 2014 French hosted International B1 Friendly tournament. Against Paraguay, Japan lost 3 – 0 at the 2006 World Championships. They have never played Morocco before.
If Japan meets other teams in the competition, they face an equally tough battle based on historical performance. Against Brazil, Japan lost 7 – 0 at the 2006 World Championships. Against China, Japan lost 3 – 0 at the 2010 Para Asian Games. They tied China 0 – 0 at this year’s Para Asian Games. Against Germany, Japan lost a home hosted friendly 3 – 0 in March of this year. Against South Korea, they drew 2 – 2 before winning on penalty kicks at the 2006 World Championships. They also drew 1 – 1 against South Korea at the 2010 Para Asian Games, and also lost to South Korea in the bronze medal match that came down to penalty kicks. They tied South Korea 0 – 0 at this year Asian Para Games. Against Spain, they lost 3 – 0 at the 2014 French hosted International B1 Friendly tournament.
Players to watch out for include Kento Kato, Tomonari Kuroda, Yasuhiro Sasaki, Akihito Tanaka, and Naoya Abe who all featured heavily in Japan’s 2014 Para Asian Games competition. This group is relatively old, with the youngest of the group, Kato, being twenty-nine years old. The oldest player is veteran thirty-nine year old Sasaki. The team is managed by Kou Uozumi.
You can follow the team captain on Twitter at @occhi_7ban.