FIFA U-17 World Cup record
Japan will be featuring in their eighth FIFA U-17 World Cup in India, having reached the quarter-finals on two occasions. The East Asians, under Tadatoshi Komine, shone on their global debut in 1993 where they reached the last-eight as hosts. On the way they drew 0-0 with Italy and saw off Mexico 2-1 to seal progression, only to be eliminated by eventual champions Nigeria by the same scoreline. They emulated that feat at Mexico 2011, progressing to the Round of 16 after winning a tough group which also featured Argentina, France and Jamaica. The Japanese then fired six unanswered goals past New Zealand, but were edged out by Brazil 3-2 to miss out on a place in the last four. They made a cleansweep of the group stage at UAE 2013 only to lose against Sweden in the Round of 16.
Road to India
After missing qualification for the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup, Japan impressed in the 2016 AFC U-16 Championship earning a ticket to India 2017 in style. They topped their group in remarkable fashion with thumping wins overs Australia, Vietnam and Kyrgyzstan. A tough 1-0 win over United Arab Emirates in the quarter-final secured passage to the world stage but Japan, however, were undone by an in-form Iraq.
Hirofumi Yoshitake boasts lengthy experience of what it takes to achieve success at this level, having led the team in both the 2011 and 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cups. Yoshitake, who names Johan Cruyff’s Netherlands side of the 1970s as his biggest influence, led Japan to their best U-17 achievement of recent years – a quarter-final appearance in 2011.
24 – Japan were comfortably top goalscorers in the AFC U-16 Championship. They netted an incredible 24 goals in just five games to score almost twice as many as any of their rivals.