Japan have qualified for the last four FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup finals but have so far failed to make much of an impression in the tournament. Although they finished a creditable fourth on their debut in 2005, the Asians have bowed out in the group phase on their last three appearances, finishing bottom of their respective sections every time.
Despite their status as one of the strongest sides in the Asian Zone, the Japanese have had to wait until this year before finally becoming continental champions. A run of three straight defeats in the final (against Bahrain in 2006 and United Arab Emirates the following two years) has just come to an end in Dubai, with Japan ending their curse against the Bahrainis, avenging a defeat in the group phase only two days earlier.
Having finally won the AFC title, the Japanese are anxious to make amends for their last two showings in the finals, when they came away without winning a single point. The objective now is to bring an end to three years of disappointment and advance beyond the group stage once more. “These boys deserve credit for the spirit they showed in getting to the AFC final,” said the team’s Brazilian coach Ruy Ramos, no doubt hoping they can earn even more credit against the world’s best.
Facts and figures
Eiichi Kato, Takeshi Kawaharazuka
Shusei Yamauchi, Tomoya Ginoza
Japan recorded three wins and just one defeat in the Asian qualifying competition, scoring 16 goals and conceding ten.
The numbers game
4th - Japan’s best-ever finish at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, which came at Rio de Janeiro 2005.