FIFA U-20 World Cup record
Japan made their FIFA U-20 World Cup debut as hosts in 1979, with Poland 2019 set to be their tenth global appearance. In their past nine U-20 World Cups, the young Samurai Blue have progressed beyond the group stage seven times, including three last-eight finishes. Their best record came at Nigeria 1999, when their golden generation, featuring the likes of Yasuhito Endo, Junichi Inamoto and Shinji Ono, stormed all the way to the final only to lose out to a Spain side sporting future FIFA World Cup™ winners Xavi, Carlos Marchena and Iker Casillas.
The road to Poland
As defending champions, Japan opened their qualifying campaign brightly, winning their group with three straight victories against Korea DPR (5-2), Thailand (3-1) and Iraq (5-0). They then swept past hosts Indonesia 2-0 in the quarter-final meeting to book passage to Poland 2019. However, their hopes of a title defence evaporated after losing to Saudi Arabia 2-0 in the last-four.
A former defender with JEF United Ichihara, Masanaga Kageyama’s first coaching job came in 2006 when he took charge of Macau. Three years later, he moved to coach the Singapore U-16 team and in 2010 he returned home to take over at Fagiano Okayama, a second-division side in Japan. He was appointed to the Japan U-20 side in 2017.
2 - Japan's runners-up finish at Nigeria 1999 is the best performance by an Asian side at the U-20 World Cup, equaling Qatar's showing at Australia 1981.