Doha, Qatar (The Hawk): According to representatives of the team, the Samurai Blue will conduct their first practise session on Friday at the Al Sadd SC Training Facilities in Doha.
Six J. League players touched down in Doha on Thursday morning. These players included veteran FC Tokyo defender Yuto Nagatomo, forward Shuto Machino of Shonan Bellmare, defenders Shogo Taniguchi and Miki Yamane of Kawasaki Frontale, winger Yuki Soma of Nagoya Grampus, and goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda of Shimizu S-Pulse.
When Japan begins their Group E campaign on November 23 against four-time champions Germany, Nagatomo, 36, will play in four World Cups.
Machino, who was called up late as an injury substitute, was one of the Japanese domestic league players who travelled to Qatar along with the former Inter Milan and Galatasaray star Nagatomo.
Hiroki Sakai, a defender for Urawa Reds, is another J. League player who will be in Doha on Friday. He is anticipated to board the late Thursday flight.
The majority of the 26 players on manager Hajime Moriyasu's World Cup roster are located in Europe, thus the Blue Samurai will begin their full practise after Sunday's final round of European league matches, while the players already in the Doha camp will begin their first session on Friday.
The team is a blend of youth and experience, with 19 World Cup rookies, 10 of whom were a part of the Moriyasu-coached 2021 Tokyo Olympics team that advanced to the semifinals.
Playmakers Daichi Kamada of Eintracht Frankfurt in the German league and Hidemasa Morita of Sporting CP are also members of the Japanese team. Both have excelled in the UEFA Champions League this season and will be looking to continue their success into the World Cup finals, which will be the first one for both of them.
Takefusa Kubo of Real Sociedad, who is the team's youngest player at 21 years old, together with Junya Ito of Stade de Reims and Kaoru Mitoma of Brighton & Hove Albion FC are some of the players based in Europe who have been enjoying a strong season and will be eager to shine on the largest platform.
From the team that participated in the Tokyo Olympics, Ritsu Doan (SC Freiburg), Daizen Maeda (Celtic FC), and Yuki were among the players who made the squad.
Eiji Kawashima is one of the team's other veterans in addition to Nagatomo (RC Strasbourg). He will compete in the fourth World Cup finals and is the team's oldest player at 39.
Team captain Maya Yoshida (FC Schalke 04) and Hiroki Sakai (Urawa Red Diamonds) will play in their third World Cup in a row in Doha, while Gaku Shibasaki (CD Leganes), Wataru Endo (VfB Stuttgart), and Shuichi Gonda (Shimizu S-Pulse), who is making his comeback after making his debut at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, will play in their second World Cup
On November 17, in Dubai, the Samurai Blue will compete in their final exhibition game before the competition versus Canada.
In addition to Germany's opening match, Japan plays Costa Rica four days later. On December 1, they play Spain to close out the group stage of their campaign with the hopes of advancing from a challenging group.
With three knockout round appearances, the most of any Asian team, Japan has the greatest record among Asian nations at the World Cup.
In their eighth participation in the FIFA World Cup finals, Moriyasu's team hopes to advance past the quarterfinals for the first time.
Japan defeated Colombia 2-1 in the group stage of the 2018 World Cup to become the first Asian nation to defeat a South American team. The squad advanced to the knockout phase of the preliminary quarterfinals but fell to Belgium, 3-2.
(Inputs from Agencies)