The Team Who has had a World Cup Quarter-Final Appearance Elude Them

Reaching the final eight at the FIFA World Cup is no mean feat, with such fine margins oftentimes being the difference between winning and losing in the knockout stages of the sport’s premier showpiece. Couple that with the event only taking place every four years, and it goes to show how imperative it is to make a golden generation or even a talented squad count.  

With that in mind, read on as we dissect one team who has had a quarter-final appearance at the World Cup elude them – Japan.

While the Blue Samurai’s performances at World Cups have been relatively inconsistent, they have managed to progress to the round of 16 on three occasions to date. It looked as though they were going to reach their first World Cup quarter-final in 2002, a tournament which they co-hosted with South Korea. 

It wasn’t to be however, as they were upset 1-0 by an overperforming Turkey outfit who would ultimately make it to the semi-final that year. Japan again made it to the round of 16 at the 2010 renewal in South Africa – this time coming up against a Paraguay side who had topped their group. 

Defeating the South Americans shouldn’t have been too daunting a task for the Japanese however, as although Paraguay managed to win Group F – they did so with just one victory to their name. The contest would ultimately end in a stalemate after 120 minutes – ensuring that the quarter-finalist would be determined by penalties.

Paraguay would go on to break Japanese hearts, reigning supreme at the spot 5-3 to send the Blue Samurais home at the round of 16 stage for the second time in their three previous World Cup campaigns. Japan’s third and most recent final 16 appearance came at the World Cup in Russia four years ago. After registering two wins and a draw during their group fixtures, they progressed to the knockout stages and took on a formidable Belgium outfit.

The Vahid Halilhodzic-managed side gave their opposition a good run for their money, falling to the Red Devils in a five-goal thriller. Japan would have been kicking themselves post-match, with them looking all but certain to progress after going up 2-0 inside the first 10 minutes of the second half courtesy of goals to Genki Haraguchi and Takashi Inui. Despite their scintillating start to the second stanza, Japan would be denied a quarter-final berth yet again after Belgium scored three consecutive goals in the final 25 minutes of the match to win 3-2.

Fast-forward to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and Japan will be hoping they can go at least one better than they did in ’02, ’10 and ’14. While they have an incredibly tough group that includes two former champions, the Hajime Moriyasu-managed side will be confident they can defy the world cup betting odds and secure a top two spot after recording a huge upset against the heavily favoured Germany in their first game.

Their discipline, intent in front of goal and energy proved too much for the DFB-team – and if they can continue that kind of form deeper into the tournament – this could be the year they excel in a do-or-die clash.

Rachel Bartee

Rachel Bartee is a blogger and freelance writer dreaming of a tour round the world to write a story of her greatest life adventure. For the time being, she feels inspired by her daily yoga sessions and studies Interpersonal Relationships.