These two Japanese stars will be key in securing Asia World Cup qualification
newsonjapan.com -- Nov 29
At the time of writing, Japan are well on course to finish at the top of Group F in their attempts to qualify for the highly-anticipated 2022 Asia World Cup.

Having secured victory in each of their opening four matches, Hajime Moriyasu's side currently has a total of 12 points, giving them a five-point lead over Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan with a game in hand, although they still have a minimum of one more group stage round to get through, after this round, if they are to qualify.

As a result, we're going to analyze two of Japan's most important players as they edge closer to qualification. In addition, we'll also consider how football is becoming increasingly popular within the East Asian country.

Maya Yoshida

While youth is at the very heart of Japan's attack-minded style of play, experience and knowhow ensures that the more fluid players have a solid foundation on which to build on. Since signing for Southampton in 2012 from VVV-Venlo, Maya Yoshida has gone on to make 146 appearances for the Saints. Moreover, it's a testament to the 31-year-old's abilities and professionalism that he has also amassed 100 caps for the national side throughout his career.

Despite struggling to regularly get into Ralph Hasenhuttl's 19th-placed Southampton side this season, having started only six of the opening 13 matches according to https://www.whoscored.com/, the veteran defender has been essential to Japan's flawless Asian World Cup qualification campaign. Unlike at club football, Yoshida has been a mainstay in Japan's defense throughout their first four games.

Furthermore, the central defender has been a fundamental factor in why Moriyasu's team have yet to concede a single goal to any of their Group F opponents. Aside from his defensive contributions, the 31-year-old also has one goal to his name which came in a 6-0 home win over Mongolia back in October of this year.

Takumi Minamino

When analyzing which players have been pivotal to the current unbeaten run of the Japanese national side, Takumi Minamino is unquestionably leading by example. The Red Bull Salzburg star has enjoyed a fantastic start to the 2019-20 season with both club and country. Upon transferring to the Red Bull club back in 2015 from Cerezo Osaka, the right-sided winger has scored 40 goals in 127 appearances for the reigning Austrian Bundesliga champions.

Concerning the national team, Minamino has been a vital spark in the vast majority of Japan's goals. The 24-year-old has thus far contributed with a total of five goals, including a crucial opener goal in their home fixture against Kyrgyzstan to maintain their perfect run to the World Cup as reported by http://www.newsonjapan.com/. When you delve deeper into the stats that surround Minamino's international goal-scoring form during this qualification stage, it's clear to see that the Red Bull marksman is helping to get his side over the line in difficult away fixtures.

According to the stats, the 24-year-old has found the net four times away from home, with one of those being a close-range header to double the lead for Japan against Myanmar at the Thuwanna YTC Stadium. The big stage doesn't intimidate Minamino, as demonstrated by his Champions League outings this season. The winger scored on his very first visit to Anfield where Red Bull Salzburg battled back before losing 4-3 to Liverpool, the current champions of Europe. If the 24-year-old can maintain his current form, then there is no reason to believe that Japan can't enjoy a flawless qualification campaign.

Football is Capturing the Hearts of Japanese People

Football in Japan has been on the rise ever since the South Asian country hosted the 2002 FIFA World Cup alongside South Korea. Following that event, the impressive run at the 2018 World Cup, in which Belgium scored a late winner to send Japan home in the round of 16, captured the hearts of many global football fans and helped to raise the profile of Japanese football even further. In recent times, Japanese involvement within the footballing community has grown worldwide with firms such as Yokohama having lucrative sponsorship deals with world-renowned English clubs like Chelsea.

Moreover, over the last few years, the J1 League has seen numerous footballing icons finishing their careers in Asia. Most noticeably, former World Cup winners Andres Iniesta and Fernando Torres signed for Vissel Kobe and Sagan Tosu respectively. This focus on legends of the game has also enhanced off-the-field digital entertainment. At https://casino.williamhill.com/ja-jp/, prospective gamers can play Top Trumps Football Stars which features the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and many more in seeking to bring the accessibility of current footballing greats to the Japanese market.

An Era of Success May be on the Horizon

With a well-balanced mixture of experience and youthful desire, the Japanese national side is in a stable place to enjoy a period of sustained success. As football continues to capture the hearts of local fans through various marketing and digital approaches, there is no doubt that Moriyasu's side will continue to attract passionate fans.

News source: newsonjapan.com
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