Japan’s best showing at the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament came at Mexico 1968, some 32 years after their opening appearance, where they grabbed a medal, seeing off the hosts in the decisive battle for the bronze. Kunishige Kamamoto grabbed seven goals on Japan’s way to third place, seeing him top the scoring charts as Shunichiro Okano’s side helped eliminate Brazil and France. They almost matched that showing at London 2012, notably seeing off Spain in the group stages, but were defeated 2-0 by Asian rivals Korea Republic at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff in the bronze medal match.
The Road to Rio
Japan dominated their qualifying group for the AFC U-23 Championship, dispatching Macau, Vietnam and Malaysia with ease by scoring ten goals across the three matches without conceding. They continued that good form into the final tournament, winning all three pool games to top Group B and progress to the quarter-finals. They left it late in the knockout stages, needing extra time to get past Iran in the last eight before a dramatic stoppage time winner saw off Iraq in the semi-final and booked their ticket to Rio. The Samurai Blue went on to claim the continental title, coming from two goals down to win the final 3-2 against Korea Republic.
Kunishige Kamamoto (1964, 1968), Masashi Watanabe (1964, 1968), Kensuke Nagai (2012), Yuki Otsu (2012)
10 appearances at the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament for Japan, Rio 2016 included. No side in Asia has qualified for more, with fellow Rio qualifiers Korea Republic also on ten.