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Japan

With the help of legendary coach Zico and some fine players, Japan secured a decent total in the qualifiers. But, a good performance in the qualifiers will not make their path any easier in the finals against stronger Group teams.

india Updated: May 25, 2006 19:17 IST

FIFA world ranking 17
Coach Zico
Group C Brazil, Japan, Croatia, Australia
Previous appearances 2 times
Key player Shunsuke Nakamura
Odds 150/1

Till the 1980s, Japan wasn't even in the football map of Asia. From the start of the 1990s, major steps were taken to lift the game. And the result, they played their first World Cup in 1998.

A first round exit was all they could manage in France. But four years later, they were the co-hosts with Korea. In front of the home fans, they played well enough to reach the round of 16.

Now, they have a legend in Zico as their coach. Japan didn't have to sweat to qualify either, securing 15 out of 18 points in the group stage,

In Hidetoshi Nakata, they have a player of immense class and experience. Shunsuke Nakamura and Inamoto are two other very good players.

But they are in the group of Brazil. Croatia appears to be a tough team and Australia are no push overs either.

Japan have to play out of their skin to reach the second round in Germany.

COMPLETE SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi, Yoichi Doi, Seigo Narazaki

Defenders: Makoto Tanaka, Tsuneyasu Miyamoto, Alessandro Santos, Yuji Nakazawa, Keisuke Tsuboi, Akira Kaji, Yuichi Komano, Koji Nakata

Midfielders: Takashi Fukunishi, Mitsuo Ogasawara, Shinji Ono (Urawa Reds), Yasuhito Endo, Hidetoshi Nakata, Shunsuke Nakamura, Junichi Inamoto

Forwards: Seiichiro Maki, Keiji Tamada, Atsushi Yanagisawa, Masashi Oguro, Naohiro Takahara.