July 19 (Reuters) – Fifty-three years since successful their first and thus far solely Olympic medal, Japan’s male footballers have their sights set on making historical past on house soil underneath Hajime Moriyasu.
Kunishige Kamamoto’s brace in 1968 famously earned Japan a bronze with victory over hosts Mexico, however since then there have been close to misses and no medals.
Confidence, nonetheless, is rising that Moriyasu’s staff may lastly break Japan’s medal hoodoo after a sequence of spectacular outcomes because the flip of the 12 months.
A 1-1 draw with Spain on Saturday got here after successes towards Argentina, Ghana, Jamaica and Honduras and has many dreaming of a podium return for the nation’s footballers.
“We got here in with a deal with successful this sport and it is unlucky that we did not,” stated Moriyasu after dealing with Spain, highlighting his ambition towards a staff whose core featured within the semi-finals of Euro 2020.
The Japanese are because of kick off their marketing campaign towards South Africa on Thursday adopted by conferences with Mexico and France as they search a spot within the quarter-finals.
Hopes, although, have been excessive earlier than just for heartbreak to ensue.
Because the Japanese ready for his or her co-hosting of the World Cup, Philippe Troussier led a proficient squad to Sydney in 2000, lacking out on the medal rounds once they have been eradicated on penalties within the quarter-finals by america.
Twelve years later the nation went nearer nonetheless, reaching the final 4 however falling quick with a loss to eventual gold medallists Mexico earlier than dropping to neighbours South Korea within the third place playoff.
That 2-0 victory for the South Koreans was the primary medal received by an Asian males’s staff on the Olympics since Japan’s 1968 success, and Kim Hak-bum’s staff will even be hoping to make an impression in Tokyo.
Whereas Tottenham Hotspur’s Son Heung-min was not included as one in all three permitted overage gamers, Kim has probably the most proficient younger squads in Asia at his disposal.
His staff received the Asian Below 23 Championship final 12 months to qualify and they’re banking on a robust staff ethic to assist them make an impression within the group part towards New Zealand, Honduras and Romania.
“We’ve to sacrifice for one another. Then we will compete towards the perfect of them,” overage participant Kwon Chang-hoon stated.
“We’re all chasing the frequent purpose. A lot of the guys will solely get one probability to play within the Olympics, and I’m not right here only for my very own good. We’re all on this collectively.”
Saudi Arabia and Australia will even signify Asia, with the west Asians supplementing their staff with World Cup veterans Yasser Al Shahrani, Salem Al Dawsari and Salman Al Faraj as they face off towards Brazil, Germany and Ivory Coast.
Graham Arnold’s Olyroos tackle Spain, Argentina and Egypt in a difficult task within the nation’s first look on the Olympics since 2008.
Reporting by Michael Church, Modifying by Michael Perry
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